The month of September is one of those major turning points in the calendar year. The nights draw in ever more quickly, the holiday season comes to an end and we find ourselves wondering where the summer went.
September also brings many important beginnings. Pupils return to school and move up a year, while younger children take their very first steps into the big world of education. The young adults who left school in the summer might be excited or nervous (or both!) about what the future holds for them as they embark on new career paths.
September is a “threshold” month. Many of our parishes experience something of this, too. Priests and catechists get ready to welcome enquirers who wish to find out more about the Church and about the hope that God’s call holds for them. Journey in Faith groups begin to meet again and plan ways of celebrating the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults with their new members.
This September, I would like to urge every parish to take full advantage of this new season by making a real commitment to reach out to family and friends, neighbours and colleagues who may no longer come to church or who may never have had any experience of doing so. And I would also like to mention some ways of doing this.
Back in July, 25 members of our diocese travelled to Birmingham to take part in Proclaim ’15 and returned with many ideas and practical suggestions on how to make their parishes more effective in mission. This edition of the Catholic Voice has a report about Proclaim ’15 and also mentions some of the resources that have been prepared to help us mark Home Mission Sunday on September 20.
Celebrating Home Mission Sunday would be an excellent way of showing our commitment to spreading the Joy of the Gospel. This year, the diocese has received a grant from a charity called The Paristamen CIO, which is designed to support exactly this kind of work in our parishes. Again, you will find more information about this in this edition but I would like to take this opportunity to express my personal gratitude for this generous donation.
In this new season I would ask all of you – in the words of Pope Francis – to be “bold and creative” in using these resources to reach out to those on the threshold of our church community.