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The diocesan vision ‘A Future Full of Hope , inspired by Pope Francis, emphasises a ‘more outward focus’ and sets out a roadmap for the next three years. 

From Bishop Declan:

In the Diocesan Guidelines ‘Called to be a People of Hope’ I quoted from the book of the Prophet Jeremiah. These words are again the springboard for the next phase of our Diocesan life.

‘I know well the plans I have made for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope. When you call me, when you go to pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, you will find me with you, says the Lord.’    Jeremiah 29:11-13

When Jeremiah wrote those words the people of Israel were going through a time of so much upheaval that they had lost hope. Through Jeremiah the Lord speaks a word of hope to his people. He reminds them that he is with them and that he listens to them. The Lord has a plan for them and it is ‘a future full of hope’.

An ancient symbol of hope is the anchor. In the letter to the Hebrews hope is described as an ‘anchor for the soul’ (Hebrews 6:18-19). The image of the anchor does not promise protection from the storm or free us from the battering waves but it gives us the assurance that the Lord is with us.

We live in a time of great change and that is reflected in our Diocese of Clifton. In some places the size of our congregations is in decline and in others there is growth. On the one hand we have fewer priests than we have been accustomed to but, on the other, many of our lay people are willing to take up their rightful role in pastoral leadership.

As we face the future we are called to be both bold in looking to the future and faithful to our history and our tradition. If all we are is bold we will drift off from our moorings and find ourselves hopelessly lost. If all we are is faithful to the past, and unwilling to change, we could become irrelevant. In other words, we are not called merely to remain in the safety of the harbour nor are we to set sail without the anchor.

The Letter to the Hebrews goes on to say that ‘we should take a firm grip of the hope that is held out to us’. Taking a firm grip of the hope the Lord holds out for us means to be anchored in God’s promise that he has a future plan for us.

A Future Full of Hope

This document sets out a roadmap for the next three years so that we may use the many resources the Lord has given us in order that we might build up the life and work of our parish communities.

Each of our parishes is different and so this plan does not seek to impose uniformity but offers, rather, an overall framework within which each community might be able to respond. It doesn’t seek to add a further work-load to the good things that are already happening so creatively and abundantly in our parishes. It seeks to deepen our understanding of what we already do and offers ways in which that can develop and grow.

Each of the three years ahead of us will focus on one aspect of the bishop’s threefold vision of Mission, Prayer and Communion. They will follow the cycle of the Church’s year and begin with the season of Advent.

Year of Mission                      Advent 2017 – Advent 2018
Year of Prayer                        Advent 2018 – Advent 2019
Year of Communion            Advent 2019 – Advent 2020

Each will have its own document with resources and reflections in order to spur us on to more active engagement in the work of Christ. The aim of these three years is to give us the tools we need in order to be able to take a firm grip on the future that the Lord calls us to. The symbol of the anchor, which recurs through-out the document, reminds us that the anchor which holds us fast is the knowledge of God’s love for us.

A Future Full of Hope document

As we begin our Year of Communion we will focus on a Spirituality of Communion and how we are called and saved, not as individuals but as God’s people. We will build upon existing ways in which parishes collaborate with each other and will encourage the work that has already begun.

OUR BISHOP’S VISION

The Church of Clifton is called to be a people who believe in Christ, who celebrate Christ, and who live the way of Christ.

The Church is created by God to live, not for itself, but for others; to be a people who share in the mission of Christ, to proclaim the Kingdom and to make disciples so that the world will be transformed according to God’s plan.

Our Parishes and Communities should be places where Christ is celebrated, shared, proclaimed and lived, where everyone is welcomed and valued, and all have a sense of responsibility for the life of the community and the world.

We are called to be disciples who not only know about Jesus but also come to know him in prayer. Our liturgies should be celebrated in such a way that Christ’s word is heard, his presence known, and which are so connected to our lives that we joyfully take up the command ‘Go in peace glorifying the Lord by your life’.

Bishop Declan launched the Year of Communion at Clifton Cathedral on Friday 22 November 2019

Resources

Here are some of the resources to start the Year of Communion. As we go through the year we will add further resources so keep checking the page

Fr James Hanvey S.J. – Approaching the Year of Communion

On Saturday 19 October we gathered at St Brendan’s College where Fr. James Hanvey SJ, helped us reflect upon A life lived in Communion. 

You can see the full video opposite and also the questions and answer session that followed the talk.