There were 81 respondents in this category.
Overall, 70% noted that they had a relationship with God. Some indicated that they prayed regularly while others noted their prayers often occurred at times of need. Many felt that they were influenced by demands on their time, their peers, their family, and issues within the church when it came to practising their faith, whether positively or negatively. Many noted feeling disconnected from the church due to perceived lack of a shared value system Many ideas manifested when replying to a question around what would encourage them to be stronger and more regular participants in the church. These centred mostly around feelings of belonging, having a voice, of inclusiveness and having something of value to contribute.
All other responses
There were 61 respondents in this category.
The synodal questionnaire and parish gathering focused on four main themes
a. When thinking of church, what brings joy?
Clerical leadership featured highly, most especially Pope Francis and our own parish clergy, Fr Martin, and Fr Michael. The sense of community that exist within the parish is viewed as a source of comfort and solace for many, as is the beauty of our church itself and the many ministries in which our parish engages. This was followed up with suggestions as to how parish activities can be improved upon.
b. When thinking of church, what brings sorrow?
While the toil that Covid-19 has taken on practising faith was observed by many, other areas came under scrutiny too: The lack of visibility of young people was to the fore in many responses as was the underrepresentation and acknowledgement of the role of women. Some responses noted that not all those in positions of power and privilege in the church, model good practice, while some noted that a desire to embrace inclusivity left others feeling that the church does not adhere to its own basic tenets. There were those also who felt left out and unwelcome if their family structures were understood to be outside of the norm. .
c. When thinking of church, what brings fear or anxiety?
There was considerable crossover between participant responses in this section and those in sections a and b above. What emerged in this section as provoking most anxiety about the future of the Church, was that of aging clergy and no new numerically corresponding vocations to the priesthood. This was followed by many comments about the necessity to recognise the work of the laity, especially women, and the need to welcome our younger parishioners. Suggestions as to how we can move forward as a parish, as a community and as a church, given the fears that exist, reiterated many noted in the previous two sections, while also adding the role of a continuum of faith development over the course of a child’s sacramental journey with staged modules throughout. The role of social media as a way of promoting events and the use of our parish centre as a focal meeting point were also included in suggestions for fostering and maintaining relationships and communication.
d. When thinking of church, what brings hope?
The parish and the work of the laity was singled out by many as helping to present and create a feeling of positivity and purpose. Others noted that hope came from a feeling of belonging and together change could occur. Major church celebrations were a feature of these responses, noting the effort that went into them and the ensuing success. Pope Francis featured again as being a beacon for those who feel marginalised and forgotten.