June 12-15, 2016
What an amazing 3-4 days it was! Thanks so much to all the amazing volunteers who made the over 600 delegates feel welcome. Thanks to the prayer warriors, the hospitality team (pretty much everyone involved at all had a hospitality role), the parking lot attendants, the transportation volunteers, those involved in liturgies, those who provided host homes, or worked to serve coffee, tea and snacks and food. Thanks to those who set up chairs and tables and moved chairs and tables and cleaned up chairs and tables and worked at registration tables. Thanks to all who ran around doing whatever needed to be done. Thanks to the organizing committee who worked hard for months leading up to DR16. Thanks to all the speakers and workshop presenters and those who ministered to us through music. What a blessing you've all been!
Most importantly, thanks to the over 600 delegates who travelled from all over the world to be with us for the Conference! You go with our prayers. We are so excited to see how the Lord is going to continue the work of renewing our parishes! May God richly bless you all.
Check out a few photos taken throughout DR16:
Videos of DR16 Main Sessions:
Watch the opening plenary session (which wasn't all available via livestream as we crashed our network-- this is also why the video starts a few minutes into Fr. James' opening remarks). Monday, June 13th.
Fr. James, Nicky & Silla Lee talking about Vision, Passion and Hope. Also features witnesses from Saint Benedict Parish (in part 1).
Here are the two main sessions from Tuesday of DR16.
Check out this cool highlight video capturing just a few of the incredible moments of grace experienced throughout the 3-4 days:
Here at Saint Benedict Parish, we are committed to moving from a parish of maintenance to one of mission.
Our parish purpose:
To form disciples who joyfully live out the mission of Jesus Christ.
Our vision statement:
Saint Benedict Parish is a healthy and growing faith community that brings people to Christ,
forms disciples and sends them out to transform the world.
Our members commit to worship, to grow, to serve to connect and to give.
Our Game Plan:
The Game Plan is our name for the strategy we employ here at Saint Benedict Parish to fulfill our purpose: To form disciples who joyfully live out the mission of Jesus Christ. The Game Plan is not a ministry, but a conceptual framework to help us be more intentional about what we have already been doing for many years. It is a process, but not a linear one. It is fluid with multiple “on ramps.” Our hope is that by being familiar with the Game Plan, all parishioners may be able to take greater ownership of our mission, and see themselves in relation to the different pieces.
The conceptual starting point is the “Invitational Church” icon. This is represented by an arrow. This is not a ministry or program but a mindset or “heart set.” It is an attitude, a disposition towards others. We strive to have an invitational culture at Saint Benedict Parish. This simply means that we invite. In fact, we invite so much that it is just normal. It’s what we do, whether to Mass, to Alpha, a Prayer Breakfast, a concert or any of the other events we host.
The second icon is Alpha. It is easily recognizable. We have been clear that we would love all parishioners and all who wish to be a part of our parish to take Alpha. At Alpha people hear the Gospel in a fresh way, they often encounter Jesus, experience the Holy Spirit and are welcomed into an experience of Christian community like none other. This does not mean that anyone who refuses to take Alpha is not welcome our parish, but it does mean that we will always be inviting everyone to experience more. Alpha is the best first step for people who have been away from Church or have had little to no experience of the Christian Faith. The Mass presumes so much, Alpha is the best tool we have ever found and we also want all of our parishioners to be familiar with this tool.
The next steps are the follow up to Alpha. We strive to have as many guests go on to join a Connect Group (the circle of dots) or to come back as a member of the team for the next Alpha (the “A” arrow head).
When they are invited and then join an Alpha Team, people continue to grow spiritually, have begun to serve and eventually exercise leadership. We desire Alpha team training to impact every single ministry in our parish. We always strive to have 50% first time team members on every Alpha. This means that serving on an Alpha Team is only for a period of time because we desire everyone to move through Alpha to another ministry.
The other option is to join a Connect Group. A Connect Group is a mid-sized home group of 20-30 people who have completed Alpha. We currently have eleven of these groups that meet every two weeks. They are lay led and are places where parishioners are known, loved and cared for in a way that could never happen if it was simply up to the priest or the parish staff. At a Connect Group members gather for a pot luck meal, a time of prayer, reflection and discussion. Amazing things happen every single week in our Connect Groups. We form new Connect Groups when we have identified, called forth and equipped new leaders.
Any parishioner can be involved in ministry. Ministry is symbolized in the Game Plan graphic by a heart with a dot in the middle. Our hope is that every parishioner will be involved in at least one ministry. Ideally, we seek to have ministry involvement shepherded from within a Connect Group. Connect Group leaders will encourage and check in with their members about their current ministry. We desire all parishioners in ministry to be serving from their God-given talents in a life-giving way and not just taking their turn to do their bit out of duty, guilt or obligation.
Discipleship Groups are small groups that are focused on learning content. These may be Bible Study groups or some adult faith formation program. They are small groups of 4-10 people. Unlike Connect Groups they are temporary, only meeting to do a particular program with no expectation beyond that. We encourage every parishioner whether in a Connect Group or not to participate in at least one Discipleship Group a year.
The final icon represents worship, especially when we gather for the Eucharist. It is our conviction that it is only when the fullness of the Christian life is being lived with some kind of involvement in these other aspects that the Eucharist has its proper place as the “source and the summit of the Christian life,” as the Second Vatican Council said. When we are evangelized and in a discipleship process, seeing and experiencing community, worship, especially the Mass, will come to life.
Watch this video recorded by Fr. James in March, 2015 for our Discipleship Groups. It is just under half an hour in length and in it Fr. James shares some helpful insights on where we are going next.