Almost one hundred parishioners participated representing the various areas, age groups and organisations within the parish. In welcoming the parishioners Fr Gerry Campbell gave thanks to the Lord for their generosity in responding to the invitation to attend.

The assembly was officially opened by Cardinal Brady. In his address he spoke of the tremendous experience of faith that existed among those who had gathered. “There is enough experience of religious life, single life, Catholic life and married life to animate today’s discussions.” He recalled the experience of the early Christian communities and spoke of the importance of remaining faithful to:

  • The teaching of the apostles
  • Sharing in the life of the Trinity and sharing our resources
  • The breaking bread
  • The life of prayer.
The day was led by Mr. Martin Groom who works professionally as a facilitator. He has given generously of his time, on various occasions, to support important initiatives in the diocese. At the start of the day he promised the people of St Partick’s parish that they would have fun, lots of activity and time to meet each other.There were four sessions in all, each beginning with ritual and prayer. The first session focused on what the participants wanted to see in place in the parish in two years’ time. The following themes emerged:

  • Adult faith development
  • Creating a sense of belonging in the parish
  • Family spirituality
  • Outreach to those on the ‘fringes’ of the parish
  • Development and enhancement of the liturgy
  • Involving young people at all levels
  • Providing services for young people
  • Communicating the Christian message
  • Increasing lay involvement in parish life
  • Responding to the problem of dependency
  • Enhancing sacramental life.

The second session identified the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities of the parish community at this time. In the third session after lunch the participants proposed key actions that could be taken with regard to various themes that had emerged and in the final session each person was given an opportunity to indicate which actions should be prioritised.

Reflecting on the day Pam Moneley said “There was a very good feeing at our table. It has bee a very good atmosphere.” Susan Dixon added, “there are more people interested in making a contribution than we thought.” Paul Mefor also shared his thoughts, saying: “This form of gathering has been wonderful for distilling people’s opinion to forge the way ahead.”

At the end of the day Mr. Peter Dixon, chairperson of the parish pastoral council expressed his thanks to Martin Groom, Fr Campbell, the parish pastoral council and to all who had gathered. He said: “I thank all of you for coming on this historic day and for sharing your ideas, talents and skills in planning the future of our parish. If we all work together in the future then our parish will become a vibrant parish. It is up to each of us to share our gifts and talents so that we can say that St Patrick’s is THE parish.”