A Privilege and a Rewarding Experience – Personal Insights in to Alive in Faith
Over the coming months, all Catholics in our Diocese will have had the opportunity to learn about Alive in Faith and how they can join those already involved. This week, we spoke to Bishop Alan Hopes and three of the Campaign Ambassadors to find out more about the initiative at this important time.
Bishop Alan, how important are the three key priorities of Alive in Faith?
I truly believe in the future of our Diocese. I hope that what we are doing now will equip the next generation of Catholics to evangelise and spread the Gospel in the years ahead. To do this, we will need priests who are well formed to guide and shepherd us; parishes that are sound, prayerful and sustainable; and a vibrant programme of outreach which reflects the social mission and core values of the Catholic Church in East Anglia. All three priorities are, therefore, incredibly important for the People of God in our Diocese for the practice of their faith and in their vocation to hand it on to others.
Claire, please can you tell us about the progress of Alive in Faith and what "s happening next?
We are at a really pivotal moment of the campaign. Half of the parishes in the Diocese have completed their efforts with tremendous success. Twelve more are now getting started and encouraged by this, we hope to see all remaining parishes involved by the end of the year.
There are challenges ahead ' some exciting ones (increasing vocations) and others that we as Catholics have a duty to respond to (caring for elderly priests and helping those in need around us). To sustain parishes into the future, members of the laity are recognising that we all need to work together and play our part.
As a member of the Campaign Advisory Committee, we are pleased to offer our support to parishes and keep parishioners updated on the impact of their generosity.
Father Philip, why is it so important to undertake Alive in Faith now?
It is important for us to undertake Alive in Faith now because for some years our Diocese has been driving on the fumes left in the tank, and that is not good for the future, so it is important for us to re-fuel.
We cannot stand still or ignore what lies ahead. East Anglia is a rapidly growing area and as the Church of today we have a responsibility to pass on our faith to future generations. Alive in Faith is helping us to provide for the needs of the Church. So this collective effort, of all our faith communities and parishes, puts us ' the Church ' on a more secure footing for the future.
Peter, what are some of the highlights of Alive in Faith to date?
Alive in Faith is a significant endeavour. It was never going to be easy. However, the universal opinion of those involved to date ' priests, volunteers, donors ' is that it is a rewarding experience. Our Diocese enjoys many blessingsbut, to sustain it into the future, members of the laity – parishioners – have recognised that it needs more than our prayers.They have shown their support for the vision ofAlive in Faithby their efforts and extraordinary financial commitments.
For me personally, it is, a privilege to be involved with Alive in Faith, as a member of the Campaign Advisory Committee and a volunteer in my own parish. It is truly fulfilling. The real achievement of Alive in Faith, however, has been to awaken a level of parish involvement not hitherto seen in the Diocese. This success has come about as a result of the leadership, willingness and dedication of our Bishop, clergy and parishioners alike.
Finally, Bishop Alan, do you have any closing comments?
Yes. As Bishop of a really vibrant and blessed Diocese, I am humbled by the generosity and commitment that our people are displaying for Alive in Faith. We must all continue to root our efforts in prayer, so I ask everyone to continue to pray for the three core pillars of this initiative ' more vocations and clergy who have served the Diocese faithfully, now retired or unwell, those in need around us and our own parish communities. Individually, we can accomplish little, but collectively, and with God's grace, we can create a wonderful legacy.
Thank you to all those who took part in this interview, including:
Bishop Alan Hopes ' Bishop of East Anglia
Claire Daunton ' Campaign Advisory Committee member
Peter Ledger ' Campaign Advisory Committee member, Diocesan trustee and parish volunteer at St Mary's, Ipswich
Mgr. Philip Shryane ' Chairperson of the Campaign Advisory Committee, Vicar for Finance and Parish Priest at Gorleston and Great Yarmouth