The Traditionalist Catholic Movement in the Church of England

The Bishop of Burnley reminded the Forward in Faith National Assembly that the purpose of the Church is two-fold – worship and witness.

Our purpose is to bring new disciples to Jesus in the Eucharist, we now have the necessary provision to make sure we can go on doing this, a line of bishops whose orders we can accept and 400 parishes –in short we have a future and its time to turn our attention to mission.

Earlier in the year a mission agenda was drawn up by a group of clergy and five of our Bishops, they met to plot out a future for Catholic life in the Church of England. 

 

Some big Questions were asked-

What is Catholic Evangelism?

What is the distinctive contribution that Catholics can make to the re-evangelisation of the nation?

What are the features of parishes in our tradition that are growing?

 

Six priorities that believe we need to focus on if we are to grow – areas of our common life that we need to focus on if the Catholic movement in the Church of England is to renew itself.

We want the Catholic Movement to recapture the evangelistic energy which brought it into life and which transformed the Church in the 19th century. We need a clear and unifying vision.

 

The Future of Catholic life.
 

  1. Forming all the baptised in Christ. Our aim to form the whole people of God in their knowledge and practice of the Christian Faith, so that they can grow into the full likeness of Christ in a lifelong journey of formation that will bear fruit in service and witness. To enable this we will call people to growth in holiness through prayer and the study of scripture. We will foster lay leadership and service and produce catechetical material  including a rule of life and find more vigourous ways of calling people to service.
  2. Making young disciples. 80% of Christians find faith under the age of 21, so young people lie at the heart of our strategy. We need to find ways of calling and training paid and volunteer youth and children’s leaders in the Catholic tradition and ensure that parishes have access to good resources. WE will give young people a voice in the life of the local Church and draw them into leadership roles. We will ensure that clergy are equipped to minister to children and young people in schools and colleges.
  3. Offering Worship that transforms. Worship is our purpose and the heart of our life. Our aim is to offer to God worship of the highest quality with prophetic preaching that will sustain and strengthen us for a life of prayer, witness and service. To enable this we will encourage every local church to reflect on and enrich its worshipping life and find ways of developing those who have a ministry as preachers. We will celebrate the rich and varied devotional life offered by our tradition. We will invest in church music and celebrate the built environment through buildings that are beautiful, well ordered and
  1. Offering Worship that transforms. Worship is our purpose and the heart of our life. Our aim is to offer to God worship of the highest quality with prophetic preaching that will sustain and strengthen us for a life of prayer, witness and service. To enable this we will encourage every local church to reflect on and enrich its worshipping life and find ways of developing those who have a ministry as preachers. We will celebrate the rich and varied devotional life offered by our tradition. We will invest in church music and celebrate the built environment through buildings that are beautiful, well ordered and accessible and foster the best in Christian art and creativity.
  2. Celebrating Sacramental Priesthood  Our aim is to recapture and celebrate a  Catholic and Anglican understanding of the priestly role in the service of the Church. We want to foster s healthy relationship between clergy and laypeople that is anchored in the recognition of a shared baptismal identity and bears fruit in service and empowerment. We will engage with national debate about the nature of the Church and the role of the priest. We will take active steps to foster priestly vocations and encourage clergy to deepen relationships with each other in order to be mutually accountable. We will use teaching days, conferences and learning communities to encourage lifelong priestly formation.
  3. Being intentional in Evangelism Our aim is to be bold and confident as we invite all to a living faith in Jesus Christ, whose Church serves and transforms community and is a sign and foretaste of the Kingdom of God. To enable this we will create in each of our local churches a culture of permanent invitation and warm hospitality. We will take active steps to equip our people for personal witness, and encourage evangelistic and teaching events regionally and locally. We will plant new Eucharistic communities and we will enable clergy and laypeople to access training in styles of leadership that foster growth. We will root all our efforts in prayer for those who do not yet know Jesus Christ as Lord.
  4. Serving the Common Good As Catholics in the Church of England we have a strong vision of the dignity and purpose of human life set free by the saving work of God in Christ. Our aim is to apply this to the world in which we live as we work for the common good. To enable this we will be a prophetic voice for  those who face poverty, injustice or abuse, especially the young, and we will commit ourselves to service and proclamation in the most deprived parts of the country. We will engage more fully in the world of education and play our part in protecting the integrity of creation.
  5.  

Despite the optimistic and upbeat tone ( my mind turned back to the heady days of Catholic Renewal and the Loughborough Conferences) we face a much diminished constituency and as quite a few of us look at our churches and more particularly our congregations, we will invariably be asking where do we start? The Church is counter– cultural and basically society as a whole is not the slightest bit interested in what we have to offer.

Speaking to clergy I know at a recent gathering for Richborough Clergy, despite best efforts, we are looking at Sunday communicants  from between under 30, to an average of 50, to a top figure of 80. My own church averages 12 at an 8.00 Mass, inflated with refugees from other parishes, and a 10.00am Mass with anything between 35 –50 communicants, the average when I arrived 27 years ago was around 50, we peaked in the mid 1990’s before the women priests ’crisis’ which has consumed so much energy over the years. What we are left with, speaking of my own situation, is largely the same ’core’ laity who are still willing but now much older and not so able– over the years new people have come and they have gone, some take on jobs but then it becomes too demanding for them, they don’t really want the commitment! Sunday school has had is final death throes, down to two girls from the same family. We have a couple of boy servers. Reading some one else’s parish newsletter this is a common pattern, the Vicar writes ’since I came here in 2013 we have lost ( ie died?) some 16 regular members of the congregation, while others are less able to get out, and although we have gained new members ….we have not gained as many as we have lost and it is beginning to show.’  


Sermons
Webpage icon Evangelism / Mission - Catholic Evangelism and Transforming Church/ Transforming
Webpage icon The Holy Family - Christmas 2015
Webpage icon Christmas Morning - Christmas 2015
Webpage icon Midnight Mass - Christmas 2015
Webpage icon The Society of St. Wilfred and St. Hilda
Webpage icon The Beatitudes
Webpage icon Christ the King
Webpage icon The Year of Faith 2013
Webpage icon The treasure we have found
Webpage icon All Saints - January 2014
Webpage icon Parish Mission and Evangelism
Webpage icon Newman - From Faith to Holiness