Seven ways to develop good school-parish relations

Friday 31st January 2020

Today a document has been released which highlights positive ideas to help foster links between schools and parishes as a part of Hope in the Future. We have dynamic and active parishes which are on a journey to become beacons of hope in their communities. It is important that we work together – home, school and parish – to engage with young people and their families.

The document leads with 7 steps which can help schools to become more involved in the life of the parish.

Step 1 – Linking with the Community

This step is designed enable schools to have a close contact with their parish even though they may be geographically at a distance. The young people could produce prayer cards/greeting cards for members of the parish community to celebrate key moments in their faith journey (e.g. Baptism, First Holy Communion, Marriage, RCIA and vocations). The parish office/priest/Hope in the Future team could help to distribute these. Templates can be found on the resources page at the back of this booklet.

Step 2 – Taking an active role

Building on Step 1, Step 2 looks at how the pupils can take more of an active role in the life of the parish community by becoming one or more of the following;
– Welcomers
– Readers
– Helping with hospitality
– Introduce the theme of the Mass before Mass begins
– Act as ushers
– Take part in the choir or help with music
– Assist with the Offertory and collection
– Give out the notices.

Step 3 – Understanding parish structures

This step aims to help the young people get to know and understand the structure of the parish and how it works. A good starting place can be to research the parish and find out all you can about the different roles and areas of responsibility by asking the Parish Priest or someone from the parish office who has a good working knowledge of who does what. The young people could produce a display, parish handbook, develop the parish website or arrange an event celebrating all the groups in the parish.

Step 4 – Celebrating the Liturgical Year

This step looks at ways in which the pupils might lead aspects of the liturgical life of the parish.
At each key time there is the possibility of mounting special Stations – waiting places for encounter or reflection. Examples would be;
Stations of Advent/Christmas
Stations of the Cross
Stations of Easter
Stations of Pentecost
Stations of Mary
Here the pupils interpret each of scripture stories in their own way or in a contemporary setting. As an example the traditional Stations of the Cross are depicted as if it were happening today – Who are the falsely accused, persecuted etc.

Step 5 – Leading Prayer

This step focuses on the pupils leading and facilitating new initiatives in the prayer life of the parish by leading or setting up one or more of the following;
– Invite speakers to lead a range of prayer traditions
– Mount an exhibition in the parish to demonstrate the many traditions of prayer in the Church and how to pray using them.
– Rosary group in school but open to the parish.
– Creating a 21st century parish prayer book by inviting parishioners to send in their favourite prayers. This can be illustrated and printed off.
– Parish/school prayer group before or after school.
– Lectio Divina in the school but open to the parish, or if possible once a month in the parish.
– Pupils keep the parish focused on the Pope’s monthly prayer intentions and ensure they are published in the newsletter.

Step 6 – Fostering Spiritual Growth

This step looks at fostering the growth of young people in the parish by inviting them to put their faith into action through social outreach. The young people may already be involved with SVP, Justice and Peace Groups, Mary’s Meals, CAFOD and Caritas in their school but they could help their parish with this important work. Young people who do this work in their school and parish can be rewarded through the CYMFED Faith in Action Award Scheme. For more information visit www.cymfed.org.uk/faithinaction/ or email Lorraine.Leonard@dioceseofsalford.org.uk.

Step 7 – Joining the Team

In Step 7 the young people are invited to join the parish Hope in the Future/Shared Leadership Team to be a voice for young people in the parish. This step calls for a high level of commitment and willingness to be active in the local parish and school. This is a reminder that each school is part of a wider parish.

You can find the document Fostering good relations between School and Parish here and further information on Hope in the Future here

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