A Summary of our First Year into the Baptism Preparation Project
I am thrilled to report that Baptism Preparation teams have been trained and are delivering the formation in our pilot parishes of St Bernadette’s, Whitchurch – Our Lady & St Alphege, Oldfield Park, Bath – St Michael’s, Shepton Mallet and St Mary’s, Glastonbury. During the course of the year, I have discovered other parishes in our diocese who have already established baptism preparation in their parishes and they are generously sharing their experience to assist the newly-formed teams.
The baptism preparation has helped to establish a culture of accompaniment within these pilot parishes and they understand the enriched welcome on offer to their families journeying towards baptism and life in a faith community. The whole parish is involved in this welcome and is encouraged by this offering. It has been exciting to draw on the expertise from within these parishes.
Our diocese has begun journeying through an implementation of the Bishop’s vision for the next 5-10 years ‘A Future Full of Hope’ and the next three years – Mission, Prayer, Communion – are centred around being the Church we need to be and forming us as evangelising disciples. The Baptism Preparation formation is a perfect response to evangelising opportunities, particularly in this year of Mission – it is gentle and non-judgmental and gives parents the space for conversation around how they feel about their faith and how this can grow with, and within, a faith community. It is an affirming process of God’s love for each one of us. It also allows us to see baptism within a wider context than just preparation for a sacrament and a day, and to see it as preparing for that encounter with Christ and his Church.
At the start of the project, the fruits of the project we were hoping for included:
- building on the diocesan family days that have celebrated family in our diocese and drawn families around our bishop
- building on the diocesan vision set out in ‘Called to be a People of Hope’ offering a greater understanding of the needs of the modern family in the life of the church today and a greater understanding of the need to accompany families
- developing a sense of building community in parishes, a good catechesis that deepens the faith and prayer of young families and parents, a good formation of catechists for baptism and encouraging parishes to celebrate family life in their communities
- drawing on and tapping into the wonderful skill and ability, as well as lived experience, of people in our parishes
- celebrating new members to our families and parishes, and new life!
Actually, the fruits are becoming so much more, as we realise how support needs to be shown to families in small ways through opportunities for prayer within the family, opportunities for a deepened faith within the family so that, as a diocese, we are all working towards supporting the mission of the domestic church. We realise more and more that baptism is a simple beginning and a door pushed ajar to enable us as a Church to walk more closely with the many faces and many shapes of the families in our parishes, our schools and our communities. This wonderful beginning of a relationship of faith that begins in baptism, and begins with an introduction to a faith community, has brought to our imagination a lifelong accompaniment of the family.
We are constantly updating the website which gives support to the initiatives of Marriage & Family Life, gathering resources as well as up-to-date News and Events, and to offer our diocesan community a serious resource for many aspects of Marriage & Family Life. Please feel free to contact me via my email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Adult Education 0117 902 5595.
Just to introduce myself; I’m a wife to Chris and mother to Will, Jack, George and Freya. I have a background in adult training and catechesis, and excited by a revival in my own faith, I am keen to reach out and share my joy in the Lord with others.
By clicking on the link below you’ll be able to follow Anitra’s reports and the progress she is making in her work.