St Joseph's Hall
Primary School
Way Forward

Church of Our Lady

Response to Parish Survey Findings (2007)

In 2002, 93% of those who responded to the Parish Survey said that the Church of Our Lady was either important or very important to them. 84% reported that they found the liturgical services at that time either helpful or very helpful.

Survey participants were invited to identify areas for improvement. 106 people or 13% responded to this invitation and the main areas they identified were as follows:
31% of those who identified areas for improvement said that they would like to see an increase in the number of masses that have a specific focus such as a youth mass, a children’s mass and a folk mass. Since the survey was conducted the following programmes have been initiated:

Holy Communion Preparation:

At the moment, as part of the First Holy Communion Preparation Programme, the 11.00am Mass one Sunday each month from September to June is a special preparation Mass for First Holy Communion children and their families. In 2006-2007 the choir from St. Mary’s National School has been a wonderful and very welcome addition to this celebration. Parents and children help with the Readings, Offertory Procession etc. This is the third year of this programme and it has been very successful and beneficial to all concerned.

Confirmation Preparation:
As part of the Confirmation Preparation Programme, the 7.30pm Mass one Saturday each month is dedicated to Confirmation Preparation. This program started in September this year and will finish in February 2007. The young people have become very involved in each celebration with Parents helping out with readings etc. Each Mass has a different theme appropriate to Confirmation preparation

Youth Mass:
In recent years we have organized a Youth Mass, once a term, including the involvement of the youth in certain ceremonies during the Christmas and Easter celebrations. Some youth have been extremely generous in offering their time to assist at Masses throughout the year (particularly when the school choir sings). We are always enriched by their input. Of course, we always welcome additional involvement.

31% of those who identified areas for improvement identified the area of music including the formation of a good church choir, more music, the establishment of a folk group, the availability of song books in the Church and the playing of sacred music before mass and during communion. The Children’s Choir, To-Toi and the Folk Group all work very hard at providing the Parish with wonderful music at many of our Masses. There are four Masses each weekend in the Church of Our Lady and it would not be fair to expect any group to commit to being available every weekend.

Mass content and duration:
28% of those who identified areas for improvement highlighted specific issues relating to the content of masses such as having masses that are more relevant to everyday events; having shorter masses; more spiritual content, less ceremony; relevant activities for young children and presentation of news, views and parish events.
In response, the duration of Mass is usually 40 minutes and it is very difficult to see how or where this could be changed to make Mass shorter. Recent feedback from parishioners is that the content of the Homily is always fresh, topical and relevant to every day life. Activity sheets for children which highlight the key messages of each Sunday’s liturgy are available in the Church porch each weekend. The ‘new, views and parish events’ are contained in the weekly parish newsletter and on the parish website and the key activities for the week are highlighted during the mass.

Lay involvement:
Smaller numbers said they would like to see more lay involvement. There is very active and enthusiastic involvement of parishioners in the mass including readers, Ministers of the Eucharist and collectors. New participants are always welcome!
Structural issues: An even smaller number of comments concerned structural issues such as an improved public address system, and a seating layout that is more conducive to private prayer.

Mass times:
Overall 91% were happy with the existing mass times and those who requested alternative times would like to see earlier evening masses on Saturday and Sunday, and an earlier morning mass and a later morning mass on Sunday. The issue of mass times is high on the agenda and has recently being discussed with parishioners at local consultation meetings and the feedback received from these meetings is being considered by our Parish Pastoral Council.

Parish Pastoral Council:
Since the survey was conducted a Parish Pastoral Council has been established. The Council consists of the Parish clergy, Parish Secretary, plus fifteen other Parishioners who are elected at an AGM each year. The mission of the Parish Council is to work together as a group to reach out in faith and love to all parishioners to develop and enhance pastoral well-being in an ever-changing reality.

Parish Office:
The Parish Office continues to expand in terms of personnel and services offered in direct response to the growing needs of the Parish. Since the Survey was conducted a new stand-alone building was procured to house the Parish Office.

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