St Joseph’s and St Swithun’s are joining together to run as one new parish community.
At a Mass at St Swithun’s, Bishop Pat Lynch made the official announcement that the Archbishop and his council had come to the decision. He explained that the union has been prompted by a decline in vocations to the priesthood in the UK and the western world generally, which has meant British churches have become heavily reliant on priests from Africa and Asia to minister to communities.
Many parishes are currently pastored exclusively by priests from overseas. In the South East area of the Southwark Diocese, of which St Joseph’s is part, he listed five examples of parishes coming together successfully – Greenwich, Plumstead, Cray Valley, Chislehurst and now Bromley.
“Bishop Pat says this is as an opportunity to focus on our mission,” says Fr Tom McHugh. “We are the local church reaching to those who no longer walk with us, those who are searching and questioning, those who are eager to know the love of Jesus Christ. We can do this best by working together as one parish, renewed, inspired and fired by our love of Jesus Christ. We can harness and build on the distinctive gifts that as individuals and communities we bring to our new parish community.”
Bishop Pat was encouraging and praised the groups that build up the community and minister to the various needs of people in the parish, as well as those who live on the margins of society and are most in need of a welcome.
The Bishop offered three suggestions for successfully embarking on the journey towards full communion, becoming one parish, one body, one spirit in Christ. The first was celebrating our One Parish Mass, followed by a shared lunch and barbecue, together at Aylesford on Saturday 17 June 2017 on the feast of Corpus Christi. He asked that we give this top priority in our diaries.
“The potential for us to make this a truly memorable, enjoyable and community building event is enormous,” says Fr Tom. “Let us seize the moment.”
The second suggestion was to plan a day in autumn for the two communities to come together with a view to developing a shared vision for the parish; and the third was to determine what structure would best serve the entire community as well as local needs.
“I, together with the joint leadership from both communities look forward to serving the best interests of all God’s people,” says Fr Tom, “and developing ways of ensuring that the gifts and talents of each person are used in the service of the common good of God’s people in Bromley and beyond. May the joy of the Gospel fill the minds and hearts of each one of us as we embark on this pilgrimage together.
“We place our new parish under the protection of Mary Immaculate and I encourage you to pray daily that the Holy Spirit will guide our journey into full communion with Christ.”
St. Swithun’s will continue to be a Mass Centre within the new parish of St. Joseph’s and St. Swithun’s.
The One Parish Mass will require significant detailed planning and an overall planning group with sub groups responsible for site planning, liturgy, procession planners, joint choir, Ministers of the Word, Special Ministers of the Eucharist, sound system, collectors, ushers, joint procession with both sets of parish registers, a group responsible for site of food-sharing and BBQ, a group responsible for facilitation of fun social events. If you wish to offer your help please contact the parish office at St. Joseph’s.