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A Future of Hope: What’s next for our diocese?

Tuesday 10th October 2023

One week ago, schools and parishes from across the diocese came together for a joyful celebration to mark the end of our Hope in the Future programme.

Throughout the day, we heard wonderful stories of how our parish and school communities have been working hard to respond to the call to be “ambassadors of Christ” by showing our love to God, our neighbour, and the world in which we live.

As we begin to move into a new chapter for our diocese, Bishop John reflects on our progress over the past six years and how it has helped to prepare us to become true missionary disciples.

A Future of Hope

Six years have come and gone since we first began our Hope in the Future journey together and we have certainly seen a great number of changes in our diocese and in our world.

The first thing that comes to mind, of course, is the COVID pandemic – a time none of us could have ever predicted and one that drastically changed the way we lived, interacted with each other, and viewed the world around us.

As we emerged, somewhat shell-shocked, from lockdown and started to become accustomed to a new kind of normality, we were faced with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the terrible stories we hear from that conflict. More than one hundred million people across the world have been displaced due to war, poverty, violence, persecution, and – of course climate change. We constantly hear reports of devastating floods, fires, droughts, and more, destroying lives and livelihoods across the globe as well as the creation that has been entrusted to us. Added to all of that we have the cost-of-living crisis. Caritas Salford shared that staggering report, which revealed that more than 300,000 children were living in poverty here in our diocese.

So much difficult news in the last six years – enough to make even the greatest optimist feel overwhelmed – but our parishes and our schools have been extraordinary. From one crisis to another, our parishes, our schools, and organisations have responded with astounding resilience and great kindness. They have been resourceful, imaginative, and enthusiastic in the face of great challenges to show the work of the Spirit in our diocese and to proclaim the joy of the Gospel in times of true difficulty.

And it was that spirit, that zeal, and that joy anchored in faith that we set out to proclaim when we began this process. I give my heartfelt thanks to each and every person who has worked to achieve that.

But this isn’t the end. We have spoken about the challenges we are facing, here in our diocese and on a global level. Now is the time to get to work. Equipped the knowledge and experiences we gained through our Hope in the Future programme, many of our parishes are now primed to continue their mission in the face of these challenges to make a difference, to bear witness to the joy of the Gospel, to leave this world perhaps a little better than we found it.

That is the vision for the next chapter for our diocese, as we seek to work together as missionary disciples, addressing the needs and challenges of our diocese – and our world – today, presenting our Church as a place of true joy and true hope.

I thank you all for the role you play in our parishes, our schools, and our diocesan community and I invite you to continue on this journey with us. With the help of this booklet, our online resources, and practical Hope in the Future experiences, let us encourage one another as we seek to be true “ambassadors for Christ” in our world today.

As ever, we pray the short but powerful prayer of our diocese: Stay with us, Lord, on our journey.

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