As a parish, we have continued to reflect on what we can do to help maintain and nurture the faith in our parish. There is no doubt that people’s expression of faith is changing. In-person attendance of Mass has lowered but webcam attendance has increased. Personal prayer as expressed through, for example, candle lighting at our shrines, has also increased.
We have to recognise that over the next few years there will be a change of focus in the faith formation happening in schools. Alongside this change within our schools, we will continue to see a decline in the number of priests.
As a parish community, we must continue to strive to find ways to provide support to parents as they raise their children in their families and our parish traditions. At the same time, we need to continue to make our two churches as welcoming as possible, as well as maximise the use of our Pastoral Centre.
So our key strategic aims over the next couple of years are as follows:
1. Employ a Parish Youth Leader – see video below.
2. Upgrade the Grounds of St Mary’s.
3. Maximise the use of the Pastoral Centre.
We want to share this journey with you. This is a journey of love, a journey of hope, a journey of faith, walking together arm in arm with God. We will be having a ‘town hall’ meeting to get the benefit of your ideas as well as give further information on the initiatives. The meeting date is January 12th @ 8pm and the location is our Parish Pastoral centre beside St. Mary’s Church.
Let’s do this together as a parish family.
‘The flame of faith still burns brightly’
Our vision of the future for our Parish includes that:
● We continue to bring God into people’s lives.
● We help our children, and grandkids to grow in all aspects of life including spiritually,
● Seeing our parish community as a place of welcome for all and a place of welcome for young people.
● As a community of faith we become a listening community.
● As a faith community we prioritise and contribute to the care of the poor through volunteers and financial assistance. e.g., Crosscare, St Vincent de Paul and others.
● Our Church gatherings are joy-filled e.g., Christmas celebration, and family mass.
● Sunday Mass continues to be a place for gathering for our community, young and old. At our special liturgies, we have active participation from all involved. e.g leading of singing, leading of the readings and prayers, wise words from the celebrant, slideshows, video, and processions.
Parish Youth Leader project – A commitment to young people
Today, we have thousands of children attending schools in the parish. We need to do everything possible to reach out to these schools and support parents who wish to provide for their children’s holistic development including their faith and spirituality.
We also have thousands of young adults attending university locally, and we need to play our part as a parish in providing a welcoming beacon of light up Kilcock Road.
A key action is to employ a Parish Youth Leader. This would be a full-time appointment of a suitably qualified candidate; someone who could relate strongly to young people and work alongside the Parish Team. This person would lead and assist in the provision of faith formation in the schools, as well as in the Parish.
In addition, we plan to reach out to the university to see how we can work in partnership to provide spiritual support in a happy and welcoming atmosphere. Pope Francis recently called on young people to reach out to older people they can trust, who can listen and offer them advice for their future. Our Parish Youth Leader should be a visible person belonging to our Parish who can accompany our young people.
In summary, we see the Parish Youth Leader as a key appointment in a future where:
● There is a decline in the Number of Priests.
● There is a need to support our Parish schools.
● In an era of mutual ministry, supporting the work of priests, parish volunteers and teachers.
● We support the development of a new leadership team for Priests and the Parish Pastoral Council to provide faith leadership in our community.
● We support future generations to experience that wonderful feeling of God’s love.
St Mary’s Grounds Upgrade
We want to make St. Mary’s church more accessible to everybody. We are conscious that the grounds have deteriorated, both the surface and also the Grotto. We know that
car parking has been a long-standing issue, both in terms of available space, and the encroachment of car parking ever closer to the church door.
So our plans are in summary:
● Move the Grotto and rebuild it…..replacing the statue of Mary… to the town end
of the church. As part of this, we plan to remove the rose bed and the tree of no
significance in the front corner;
● Pave out the entire grounds, subject to cost;
● Mark out specific car parking spaces, making more efficient use of the space;
● Take up the offer from the Boys’ School to provide car parking in the new school.
As a result of the ongoing generosity of parishioners, the parish finances are in a healthy position. Despite a very heavy spend over the years on a new Pastoral Centre, repainting of the churches, external cleaning of St Mary’s, ongoing and constant maintenance work as well as meeting normal operational costs, the great news is that we are debt free, and with currently about €30,000 in credit in the bank.
So with that support, we are never afraid to take on major and worthy projects. We believe that the projects we are suggesting are most worthy. We are also lucky that we have two significant pillars already in place, without which we would not be able to consider this approach.
● Firstly we have our own Pastoral Centre, and we have a dedicated office space for an additional employed resource, which was planned for from the outset.
● Secondly, as part of the Living the Joy of the Gospel initiative, we provided to the Diocese close to €200,000 from Maynooth’s overall contribution at the time, for faith formation in the Diocese. This money has remained ring-fenced and unspent, and the Diocese has now decided to allocate this money back to Maynooth Parish, for such an activity. We estimate that the cost of a Parish Youth Leader over say a 10-year period would be in the region of €500,000. This means we have to raise an extra €300,000 or say €30,000 pa, over 10 years.
We are now looking for people to support this project. Our calculations suggest that 200 households contributing an extra €10 per month on their existing parish contribution would cover the parish youth leader cost. A bonus would be new contributors paying a monthly contribution of €21, which allows us to claim tax refund in addition. We estimate that the lump sum cost of the upgrade of the grounds is of the order of €100,000. This will require separate once-off fundraising.
Parish Pastoral Centre
Finally, post-Covid we are in a position to fully open up the Pastoral Centre again. Already there are plenty of meetings booked regularly. In addition, we have set up a subcommittee to organise various events of interest to the parish, linked to our spiritual and mental well-being. Of course, the proposed Parish Youth Leader will generate increased usage also.