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Diocese of Westminster, UK
The Diocese of Westminster in the United Kingdom is the largest diocese in England and Wales in terms of Catholic population and priests, serving in 216 parishes. Its geography includes the city of London, which increasingly involves a wide range of ethnic and cultural diversity amongst its Catholic population. Like many metropolitan areas, affluence and secular values have at times conflicted with spiritual values.
RENEW International's Work
In 2002, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor invited RENEW International to partner with the Diocese of Westminster in providing a comprehensive spiritual renewal program for their parishes. A renewal of parishioners, substantive adult faith formation, leadership training for lay leaders, a systematic strategy to engage young adults would form the foundation for reorganization of their diocese.
A team of five Westminster leaders worked with two RENEW International staff members to inculturate the materials and custom design the workshops to fit the needs of the archdiocese. They called their program, At Your Word, Lord. Over 20,000 parishioners participated in RENEW Small Christian communities. The Mass which launched the process, which took place at Wembley Arena, involved 12,000 people from parishes across London and Hertfordshire. It was the largest Mass of its kind in London since the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1982
The fruits of this effort have included more vibrant parishes, a flowering of social outreach and ecumenism and calls to vocations in ordained and religious life.
The February 2006 publication of the committee’s summary document Communion and Mission: Pastoral Priorities for the Diocese of Westminster illustrates the influence of RENEW International on the future pastoral ministry within the diocese. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor writes, “[The parish} is to be a communion of communities, a network of lay-led faith-sharing groups and small prayer communities working in collaboration with their priest; a parish that reaches out to other churches in fraternal dialogue and is recognized as a people bound together and nourished by the celebration of the Eucharist.” (p. 11)