What a superb day! Some 360 people gathered from across the four counties of our diocese for this annual Diocesan Day. The family of the diocese was being celebrated… and it was good to bring people together. Folk started arriving at about 9.15am to find bouncy castles and slides, the mobile farm, caterers and hosts in preparation mode. It was wonderful to see familiar faces and new coming together, signing in and getting all prepped for the day ahead.
Our opening liturgy centred us on Christ as the light of the world, calling us to be his holy people sent out to the world to bring light and joy to those we encounter in and through the ordinary-ness of our lives.
Trains and broken points made us turn to Plan B. David McLoughlin was caught in the midst of these broken points and stuck between Parkway and Temple Meads. Beautifully, one of the workshop leaders – Sarah Adams (Plymouth) was able to lead her workshop in the keynote space, wonderfully leading us into consideration of how we welcome and how we exercise that ministry (or not) in our parish communities. Thinking she was simply going to speak to 20-30 people in a classroom, Sarah found herself addressing the massed Clifton gathering in the gym at St Brendan’s. She did marvelously and gave us food for thought to take back to our individual communities.
We welcomed Fr Matt Anscombe to explore creating a seedbed for vocations, Michael Roche (Alpha UK) to help us ponder parish evangelisation and what we are or are not doing (!!!), we welcomed Nick Weeks who led workshops on Parish Pastoral Councils; David McLoughlin (having now arrived) led two workshops on Pope Francis’ vision for the Church, and David Wills worked on using Lectio Divina as a tool for Family Prayer. With activities and workshops for our children (about 45 of them) and a superb reflection day for our young people, we couldn’t have asked for more.
We also shaped the day to include a stream of formation for the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. About 160 of them gathered in the auditorium to renew and refresh their ministry before commissioning or re-commissioning by the bishop. Bishop Declan, Fr Christopher, Sarah Adams, and Gaynor Reynolds helped facilitate their formation around ministry, service and prayer, deepening their appreciation about what this ministry at the service of the community is calling them to be.
But what were people going to take away? A real sense of feeling welcomed and belonging to something good; some powerful and thought-provoking material to unsettle and challenge; a real exploration of ministry and service; a renewed sense of mission and prayer; a sense that sanctity comes from doing ordinary things extraordinarily well; a sense of privilege at coming together with the family of Clifton and being enriched by that encounter… and so much more.
The weather was kind to us and people flowed outside with their ploughman’s lunch and cuppa.
We drew the day to a close with Mass for the Sunday celebrated by our bishop. It was good to be with him, good to spend the day in his company and he simply affirmed each and everyone of us as we returned to our parishes as Christ’s holy, anointed people.
So many people worked hard to make Saturday happen, both up front and behind the scenes. That hard work pays off when so many people go having felt enriched by that day together.
If you were there, well, it was good to see you. If you couldn’t make it, we missed you. Maybe we’ll see you next year at St Brendan’s. Keep an eye out for the date for 2018!
Have a browse of the photos from the Family Day, here.