1. Synod Preparations:    Monmouth Parish Community Profile

Our starting point for our Synodal Journey is an assessment of where we currently stand as a parish.

This is to invite your comments on the accuracy and adequacy of this profile of our strengths and weaknesses as a parish. It has been drawn up with the help of a number of our fellow parishioners.

Hopefully it will alert you to the good work that we do as a parish community and what we could do. Your comments of whatever nature are welcome and should be sent directly to Sean Dunne at the following email address:  monmouthsynod@gmail.com or placed in a basket market “Synod” at the back of the church, if you prefer.

Our Strengths

  • St Mary’s Monmouth is the hub of the parish where we gather to celebrate the Eucharist
    • It is God’s House, as every child knows, where we receive many of the Sacraments
    • It is where we regularly hear and reflect on the words of the Gospel
  • We are very fortunate to have our Parish Priest resident in the parish
  • The church is locally based for easy access for most town based parishioners
  • The church and adjacent facilities were significantly upgraded in recent years
  • It also enjoys access and good facilities for the disabled
  • Normally active SVP, Catenians, CAMEO and other ad hoc parish groups
  • Social & Fund Raising Committee and Finance Committee, as required by canon law
  • Active and efficient Parish Secretary and competent Treasurer providing regular reports
  • Congregation made up of 150 households who are typically generous in their support
  • Good cadre of well organised Eucharistic Ministers and Readers
  • Responsible well organised Welcomers / Stewards at time of COVID
  • Key dependable Helpers to act as
    • Church cleaners / flower arrangers / church linen / gardeners
    • Sunday musicians and choir
    • Mass servers
    • Instructors for First Communion and Confirmation
  • Well attended annual events open to all comers
    • St John Kemble Pilgrimage
    • Advent / Autumn Fair
  • Joint Ecumenical Ventures
    • Churches Together in Monmouth
    • Stations of the Cross with Local Parishes
    • Passion week enactment
    • Food bank
  • Financial Contributions
    • CAFOD
    • Red Boxes for Missions
    • 100 Club
    • One-off requests for good causes like
      • Support for Retired Priests
      • Missions
      • Apostleship of the Sea
    • Parishioners also play their part as Parents, Good Citizens, Neighbours & Employees

Our Weaknesses

  • Our Parish Priest is shared with St. Frances of Rome, Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire
  • Our rural catchment area is large with limited transport for outlying families without a car
  • Small and relatively ageing congregation with relatively few young families
  • No Catholic school to attract youngsters to the parish and retain continuity & Catholic ethos.
  • Contact with Catholic children in schools has been lost after Catholic teachers retired / left.
  • In practice there are 2 congregations at Saturday & Sunday Masses with little interchange
  • Joint attendance limited to Holy Week, Christmas, Confirmation and parish socials
  • High dependency on the same regular few to get things done
  • From Parish Priest onwards there is a heavy dependency on individual contributors
  • Grade 2 listed church requiring costly maintenance or modifications with special permits
  • COVID had and is continuing to have a prolonged impact on liturgy, parish social and fundraising activities, parish finances, use of the church buildings, and on the numbers of parishioners able to return to celebration of Mass in person.
  • Broadband width made impossible the streaming of Mass from St. Mary’s, Monmouth, and this has continued from our sister parish, St. Frances of Rome, Ross-on-Wye.
  • Our band of volunteer cleaners is ageing and during COVID has been replaced by a professional cleaner at cost.
  • It is clear that not all cleaners will be available once normality returns.
  • We have no sacristan

Our Process

In response to the request of Pope Francis that we listen to each other in a prayerful and discerning manner about the Mission of the Church, Communion and Participation we shall consider certain themes so we can explore what the above concepts really mean in practice to us. This is the first theme and our starting point on our Synodal Journey. Others will follow with your help in the New Year.

Although our starting point is our own parish community it is important to highlight that our overarching purpose is to draw to the attention of our own Archbishop and other Bishops those key issues of universal importance to the Church in the modern world. Hence, if there are issues which you particularly want to raise for communication and comment, please feel free to mention them as we go along however traditional or radical your ideas may be so that we can also propose them without attribution to our fellow parishioners for their views.

All responses will be anonymised upon receipt and if you prefer you may leave your comments marked “Synod” at the back of the church for collection otherwise please reply by email or in person.

Theme 1: Parish Community Strengths & Weaknesses published w/e 11 & 12 December 2021

For comment by or before 31 December 2021 to Sean Dunne on monmouthsynod@gmail.com

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