I bumped into three mums outside the school one day during the week. They were chatting, keeping an eye on their kids playing nearby and waiting for the others to finish school. I’ve often found this to be a fantastic time to have an impromptu meeting with parents, a sort of in between moment, they are relaxed and available, with time for a chat.
So, three things were memorable for me in that encounter. Firstly, how friendly and affable they were, that’s no surprise, but after such a long time of not engaging with each other in this way, it was lovely that they were interested. Secondly, they were up for the chat about how much the parish and the wider church needs their involvement if we are to have a happy and effective future. They were very aware of the way their parents and older parishioners have built up the parish over the years. They know that as one generation ages the next generation has to step up to the plate, and participate. Thirdly each of them had deep and moving insights into the effect of the pandemic on their faith and participation in Church. This was so good for me to hear, that their absence from Mass and not being able to bring their children, with the wider family, even at Christmas, was a real loss for them.
One mum was strong when speaking about the negative way some of her friends, who aren’t interested in church, criticise her for staying in touch with her faith, and involving her children in the choir and activities here. I felt that if we had more time to talk, we could build up this positive feeling she had, and help her to build confidence in the face of that criticism.
Maybe that is our common task as hopefully the effects of Covid on our church life begins to wane. We need to be positive, to renew our activity levels, reengage with ministries, with Mass and wider parish activities. As we believe so fervently that this spiritual dimension of life is invaluable, we will do all we can to secure the future of the parish to the best of our ability.