More than 80 people gathered on Saturday morning, Jan. 26, at St. Thomas à Becket Parish on the West Island to carry the momentum sparked by the November Parish Vitality Conference.

The event drew in participants from 16 Montreal parishes, ten of which were English-language communities. Pastors and leaders of movements and organizations from within and beyond the diocese of Montreal were also in attendance.

Parish Vitality is at the heart of the missionary shift we’re being asked to undertake. The purpose of the follow-up meeting was to provide an opportunity for our community to network and share ideas about how the Holy Spirit is calling us to serve and outreach in our neighbourhoods, to explore what is needed to move us forward on our various paths of missionary transformation, and to explore how we can collaborate at a local level to bear missionary fruits.

Led by Fr. Raymond Lafontaine, EV, together with the Office for English Pastoral Services (OEPS), and Parish Vitality Facilitator, Terrel Joseph (of Pillars Trust Fund), participants actively engaged in open and frank exchanges with participants from neighbouring parishes. While there are common insights and struggles in our faith community, it was recognized that God has a plan for us, guided by the power of the Holy Spirit, and the need to pray for discernment in the marathon that is the process of transformation. Individual local communities have specific challenges they need help in addressing, including discerning where to start, how to focus their efforts and integrate individual giftedness for the common good as well as developing leadership.

The Office for English Pastoral Services will serve as a resource for those parishes beginning to undertake such transformation. It will also analyze the feedback with a view to facilitating ongoing dialogue between and across neighbourhoods as well as collaborating with leaders and communities to help equip them to move forward.

We would like to thank the community of St. Thomas à Becket Parish for the warm welcome extended to our large gathering and offer our sincere appreciation to Fr. Peter Sabbath, Heidi Thibodeau, the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Women’s League for the attention to detail in the set-up of their community reception room and their service throughout.

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