Diocesan Assembly

“We are not called to be navel-gazers, but a communion of communities that looks beyond themselves… And so it is imperative that we become a synodal diocese, building upon the conversations we have held over the past few months.”

Bishop David Oakley, Diocesan Synod Report

On Saturday 15th July around 350 delegates from across the diocese gathered at Thornton College for our Assembly, Pilgrims of Hope.  This was part of the response to the synod listening process in 2022.  In the months running up to the Assembly, the delegates took part in preparation sessions run in Pastoral Areas around the diocese, and there were five Monday evening webinars on key topics.

Through the prep sessions, through the webinars, and through the day itself there was a great sense of people coming together, and of a shared sense of purpose and openness to the Holy Spirit.  At the beginning of the day we heard from Bishop David, the working parties and the youth stream.  We even had a note of prayer and appreciation from Pope Francis.  Then we moved into workshops, which were by turns reflective, passionate, and eye-opening.  Stories of hurt and healing were told, and dreams shared for the future.  Our final session gathered together some of the learning from the day, electrified by the youth stream. Bishop David shared with us three key words: koinonia – fellowship, working together against division; agape – laying down our lives in love for one another; and exousia He finished by telling us that

  • An action plan will be finalised over the summer to address the main concerns of the listening.
  • Every area of diocesan life will be encouraged and supported as we look to meet the changing needs of our Church and the world.
  • A new Diocesan Pastoral Council will take forward the agenda of the Assembly

As delegates we were all encouraged to become ambassadors for the Assembly, and we finished the day with a beautiful period of prayer and worship. We thank everyone who worked so hard to make the day a success.

We are very grateful to Thornton College, all who helped to make the day happen, and our generous funder, and most importantly to the delegates who came with open minds and hearts and made it such a special day.

The livestream of the opening and closing sessions can be found here https://youtu.be/xb0y7G3lTeM, and the summary of the working parties is herehttps://youtu.be/ajn8lGIkpg8.

Our Workshops (Click here)

Workshop 1: What is the purpose of a parish? What is it currently, and what should/could it be?

Avril Baigent, Deacon Brent Adonis/Lucy Ondier-Thompson

Workshop 2:  What does effective shared decision making between parish priest and laity look like to you? What skills do both groups need to make this work?

Ciaran Beary, Vron Corben

Workshop 3:  Women’s ministry – possibilities and actions

Helen Burgess (Chair, Diocesan Women’s Ministry Group)

Workshop 4:  Reaching beyond our doors – experiences of listening to the peripheries

Fr Kevin O’Driscoll and Deacon Jim Hannigan (Director of Caritas)

Workshop 5: Financial considerations:: Appetite for change

Tony McNiff (Chief Operating Officer)

Workshop 6: Realities of being a priest in a changing world – how do we build trust?

Fr John Udris

Workshop 7: What is the impact of Church related abuse and how can we as a community  respond?

Danielle Dixon (Safeguarding Coordinator) + Elizabeth Ridley

Workshop 8: Communications – a whole diocese approach

Neil Roseman (Director of Communications) + Serena Hodgson

Workshop 9:  Becoming a missionary diocese

Mission Northampton: Fr Simon Penhalagon, Maria and Alex Heath

Workshop 10: Families – how can we serve each other better?

Sam Canning and Joanna Hale (Marriage and Family Life Commission)

Workshop 11: Reflections on the liturgy
(Fr Kevin+ liturgy commission member)

Workshop 12: How can we support each other to grow in prayer?
(Sr Anne Morris and Fr Dave Nixon)

Workshop 13: How can the Church serve young people better?

Intergenerational conversation with youth stream and adults (1.30 slot only)

Friday 14th July at 7.30pm, Prayer Vigil for the Assembly:  You are invited to join our religious communities and Catholics from across the diocese in prayer as we give our conversations and plans to the Lord. Online via the livestream or in person at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Chalfont St Peter. Watch here 


    What will happen after the Assembly?

    An action plan to be finalised over the summer to address the main concerns of the listening.

    Every area of diocesan life encouraged and supported as we look to meet the changing needs of our Church and the world.

    New Diocesan Pastoral Council to take forward the agenda of the Assembly, meeting on 7th October.