With Hearts Burning – Module 1

Hearts Burning

Summary of Module One

St Mary Star of the Sea
Gisborne Dec 2017


This summary is presented
in two parts

Firstly a summary of the
responses from the individuals in the nine discussion groups

Secondly emerging issues
identified as issues which need to be addressed by the Parish Leadership Team



Below is a
collation of responses provided by nine discussion groups representing the
comments from seventy parishioners

possible the actual words reported have been used and comments with similar
wording have been included together.

A number of
very specific and detailed suggestions because of their length have not been
included here but are held in their original form and are available for viewing
and discussion.  

The original
reports are held for reference.

Question One:

We often talk about evangelisation,
but the reality is most parishes have experienced a decline in Mass numbers
over the last 20+ years.

What are the underlying reasons for
the decline in numbers?

·       Apathy

·       Too many other things to do. Sunday
trading – people go shopping

·        People are working hard all day

·       Technology. Digital including TV and
digital devices.

·       The abuse scandal within the church.

·       People are more mobile –motor

·       People drift away and become
distracted by other things-They have not necessarily lost their faith

·       Consumerism and materialism and
individualism have replaced religion. Pop concerts, sports fixtures are more
important than church and parish involvement

·       Busy with Children

·       Many old people. Ageing congregation.
Older people tend to leave if they have been offended

·       Too many obstacles. Too may rules.
Church doesn’t recognize divorce. If you haven’t been for a while you can’t
take communion

·       Lack of intimate relationships. Busy

·       Society supports success as making
plenty of money and being in control of your lives

·       Often focused on ego. Bored. Lazy.

·       Many find their needs met in sport

·       Church symbols and ritual no longer
speak to most people

·       Coldest church – people wise. People
go to mass and are not seen or listened to by anybody

·       Belief not strong enough. Not
teaching the faith properly

·       Catholic schools in early day’s nuns
were mean and terrible. Hurt. Run in with clergy. Hurts with no forgiveness.
Pre Vatican II attitudes.

·       Participation in Mass is minimal.
Just look around. Many seem bored observers. Same Mass only the sermon is
different. For the youth it is “same old” and they lose interest

·       Mass is a school thing

·       Too greater demand from families and
school on children to attend Mass as they were growing up

What has this taught you about the
spiritual life generally and of those who have left?

·       To belong to a community with rituals
and symbols

·       To belong to the community you need
to learn a new language from the past

·       People need to be seen and listened

·       People need to participate

·       People need to be accepted just as
they are

·       Seeking Jesus in more vibrant worship
and enthusiastic fellowship


How has, or how might,
your community respond to these reasons?

·       Provide spaces of quiet where people
can be still and inward. Have become a fast food outlet!!!!

·       Be strong about bringing people into
God’s presence. Continue to be strong in teaching about God. Know our faith
more. Explain were Mary is in scripture.

·       Language. Much belongs to the past. Eg Kingdom is a concept which has no value for present
generations. “All is one” – The church is not seen to practise this. God is
spoken of as male. Language is often exclusive, divisive.

·       More small group meetings, home
groups that build faith

·       Identify newcomers and make them
welcome. Invite to small groups.

·       More activities – not just Mass.
Sporting events, travel evenings

·       We need good food to keep our bodies
healthy – our spirit needs feeding with regular Mass attendance.

·       More active focus on the young

·       We need to be more welcoming eg priest could ask new people to introduce themselves at


Question Two:

In what ways does your community
acknowledge and respond to individuals who are drifting away or have walked
away from the Catholic Faith?

·       Reaching out to those who have left
their faith has improved over the last few years.

·       It comes down to knowing our fellow
parishioners. We must know them to know we are losing them

·       It is better to prevent the
haemorrhage because visitation of those who have left does not produce much

·       You may enquire from others of why
they are missing.

·       We are doing little but acknowledge
that some people slip away including baptised members and siblings



Question Three:

What has your parish and parish
school learned from those who now go to Pentecostal churches?

·       They are younger with a more vibrant
and enthusiastic form of worship that appeals to those who are spiritually

·       Lots of emotional response

·       Strong identifiable sense of
community. Lots of sharing and friendship and opportunities for companionship

·       Churches have sophisticated sound and
lighting systems. The music is more upbeat and lively! It’s like a concert

·       Teach how to trust and surrender

·       Flexibility, social interaction and
basic home skills programmes such as cooking and child care.




Question Four:

How aware is your parish and Parish
school of Catholics becoming members of another religion? What is about other
religions that seems attractive?

·       It is mainly confined to young
Catholics who start to seek Jesus. Music and full involvement in church life

·       Some enjoy the happy clappy and Charismatic practice of other churches

·       Group is aware of several
parishioners who have moved to other churches.

·       They are modern. Have more family
connections and affirm life choices.







Question Five:

What processes of reconciliation does
your school/parish have for people who have been hurt and left because of a
community member? How often are these processes of reconciliation used?

·       At present there does not appear to
be any process to address past hurts apart from the Sacrament of reconciliation

·       Suggest a trained person or group of people
and a priest to address these situations based on the restorative justice

·       The third rite of reconciliation
could be a channel for community reconciliation

·       Monsignor Frank is very inclusive in
funeral services and requiem masses. People are welcomed by name. People remember
his “apology on behalf of the church” at one funeral


Question Six:

How do you respond to those “who have
found Jesus” in another church?

·       Congratulate them. Be Jesus to them.

·       A feeling of “She’s still going to

·       Sad they didn’t find Him in the
Catholic Church but “Well done.”

·       Great! At least they have God in
their lives. One does not have to be Christian to know God.


Question Seven:

Many people say “I went to a Catholic
Church and no one spoke to me.” How important is the ‘welcome’ in the life of
your parish and how is it actively embraced?

·       Congregation liked the October
birthday and anniversary celebrations. Much appreciated by all

·       Welcoming in the foyer. Welcoming
when the pamphlet is given. Active welcoming by the priests both before and
after Mass

·       Welcoming by Leaders and priest at
start of Mass

·       Seeking our people from different


·       More people could be involved  in welcoming both inside and outside the
church both before and after mass

·       Offering to provide a cup of tea.

·       A welcoming event every quarter

·       Need to be inclusive to break down


Question Eight:

In the past the Church has had rich
contributions from the likes of St Vincent de Paul Society, Catholic Women’s
League, and Legion of Mary. Today many of these organisations struggle to find
members. What’s changed?

·       Many of these organisations were for
women who did not have paid employment. Now women work and there is little time
for anything outside of work and family

·       Both parents working – more work
demands. More selective about leisure time commitments

·       Problem is across all groups and
organisations in society eg bowling clubs, RSA, Golf

·       Selfishness – low priority for
religious practice

·       Aging population in the Church in New

·       No one is prepared to commit to
anything including organisations


What sort of organisations do we need

·       Home groups – eg
scripture groups

·       More small group meetings

·       CFM type group – meeting desirable

·       Marian group focusing on young

·       Young Vinnies

·       Building St Vincent de Paul Society

·       Communications Team to encourage
parishioners to participate in whatever is going on

·       Team to “shoulder tap” others to hold
events. Picnics, social, games, housie, galas.

·       Organisation modelled on U3A

Question Nine:

How does your parish move from a
simple Sunday Mass attendance to a full and active life in the parish?

·       Are we not already doing this?

·       Give a deeper sense of Mystery

·       Greater diversity of readings and

·       Know our faith more eg tell others where Mary is in scripture

·       Maybe if the extraordinary ministers
of the Eucharist and the Word are rotated as was intended originally almost
everybody will be involved

·       Parish publications – weekly notices,
monthly STAR

·       Special celebrations are recognised

·       Life in the spirit seminar

·       Adult Education from Catholic
Institute –Cynthia Piper

·       Parish Activities eg
Holy Door day

·       Meditation group in parish and
practice in the school

·       Parish prayer groups – Sr Cynthia


Question Ten:

How can we respond to those who say”
You don’t have to go to Mass to be a good person?”

·       We thought the point was that to be a
Catholic surely you should be going to Mass

·       You can’t call yourself a Catholic
unless you go to mass

·       True you can love your neighbour as
yourself and ignore God. But how can you say you love God if you ignore him?
The Mass is the heart of our faith where God gives himself to us. We prove
ourselves as ungrateful if we stay away. “Do not absent yourself from your own
assembly as some do, but encourage each other.”

·       Must go to Mass to live completely
with Christ in Communion.

·       Members of the group acknowledged
their faith in the Eucharistic Presence at Mass

·       It was widely acknowledged that there
are very many good people regardless of their attendance at Mass


With Hearts Burning

An overview of Emerging initiatives


The Parish Leadership has
received both verbal responses from nine of the “With Hearts Burning “Module
One discussion groups. We have identified a number of suggested initiatives
which apply to our Parish. These comments are as they have been presented to us
in the feedback session.



Welcoming to Mass,
Funerals and other services at the Church

Welcome at the beginning
of Mass

Welcoming people is so

More people involved in
welcoming, offering to make tea.

Active presence of priests
in the foyer before and after mass was appreciated

However it ‘takes two to

Getting to know the
parishioners. Name tags would help



 Identify who are visitors to our parish at the
beginning of Mass

Invite newcomers to join
small groups (group really did like the small group dynamic)

Quarterly event where
people can be welcomed

Hold a club expo after
mass to display what the organisations in the parish do.

A team – to shoulder tap
others to hold events and assist with the coordination of events



Youth and Guitar and
Filipino Masses – more vibrant music encourages active participation

More men in the choir and
doing the collections



Extend celebration of
anniversaries and identify wedding anniversaries to reinforce the sacrament of

Learn more about our Faith
eg Where Mary is in scripture






More communication within
the church community

Smaller group

More activities –not just

Fun things to do not
necessarily things to do with church eg Sporting
event, travel evening

Projects or jobs to bring
us together with a common cause and focus

Put the WE back into the
church and take out the I



We need to involve other
cultures in the parish

More diverse cultural
input in masses eg Tongan, Indian, Other Asian groups



Reaching out to those who
have left their faith

Why are we wanting them to
come back? What are we offering them?

Visiting wayward Catholics



Passed hurts have not been
addressed satisfactorily

Two or three diplomatic
people plus priest to handle reconciliation matters

System to report a
complaint or concern or rumour about a fellow parishioner. Based on the
restorative justice model

Third right of
reconciliation a good channel to bring a sense of community reconciliation



More of our efforts should
go into building our St Vincent de Paul society to help people worse off than


Thanks to all for your
involvement and suggestions. We look forward to Module Two starting in February


Parish Leadership Team




28-12-2017 Home Word PLT WHB Summary Module 27-12-2017