Response from the Parish of Christ the King, South Chingford & Walthamstow
We had a very well-attended parish meeting on 11th February. Having heard the views of our people, we were happy to note that parishioners were not coming from a NIMBY attitude but from a real desire to engage in the renewal of the Church for the effective proclamation of the Gospel. However, there was a strong sense that the proposal would not enable us to fulfil our prime duty as Catholics which is to spread the Good News. We therefore respectfully ask you to reconsider the proposal in regards to our parish, in light of the comments below; and to look favourably on the alternative we propose. We continue to pray for the ongoing work in reorganising our Diocese.
We dealt very swiftly with the Renewal section of the document as there was nothing there that anyone could not accept. And it closely corresponded with the points addressed during the initial consultation. It was noted in fact that we at Christ the King have been doing very well under all the 12 categories, while accepting that there is always room for improvement, particularly in involving more parishioners and in focusing more on young people. It was encouraging to see that the priorities identified by the Diocese are so similar to those we have identified locally.
When we turned to the Restructuring section, there was a marked change of mood! We watched Bishop Alan’s excellent DVD address and we expressed our acknowledgement of the massive task being undertaken by the Diocese. But all those parishioners who spoke were strongly opposed to the specific plan for this parish, and when asked if anyone agreed with it, nobody said they did.
The reasons for opposing the proposal as it relates to our parish were as follows:
1) It fails to acknowledge the current mission and demography of the Parish
The proposal does not acknowledge the response we gave to the initial consultation, which showed how well we have done in all those 12 areas of Renewal, particularly in our “caritas” work, catechesis and evangelism.
The Parish was carved out of Our Lady and St George, Walthamstow and “looks South”. There is no logic in combining with parishes North of Chingford Mount; we relate far more closely to Walthamstow; we have all the issues of an urban London borough, dealing with the social issues that this presents, including the dense home building that has recently been built and planned for the near future and the constant need from families dealing with immigration difficulties.
Our church building, only 20 years old, stands as a focal point at the Billet roundabout on the A406, a beacon of light, a sign of hope for the area. The parishioners feel very strongly that we need to continue to be here as real Stewards of the Gospel.
Our Children attend St Patrick’s and Our Lady and St George Primary schools and Trinity and Holy Family Secondary schools. There is nothing to be gained in combining our parish in a grouping which includes none of those schools and it would nullify the good work that is being done by Fr David in the two Catholic Secondary schools attended by our children.
2) It fails to appreciate the current dynamic of the Waltham Forest Deanery
It would nullify the good practice that has been built up over the years within the Deanery of Waltham Forest, with the priests covering for each others’ parishes and in being on call for Whipps Cross Hospital, in delivering training to Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist and readers, and in the deanery marriage preparation course, and in sharing opportunities for retreats and special devotions.
It is surprising that at a time when the diocese is organising its schools into Multi Academy Trusts on a deanery basis, proposals are being brought forward for restructuring which cut across the boundaries of the MATs. This can only weaken our effectiveness in our schools.
3) It fails to acknowledge or take account of the parish’s relationship with the Ordinariate.
During the Stewards of the Gospel process, much emphasis has been placed on the need for parishes and communities to be open to change. That is surely true and should be embraced according to Newman’s understanding that “to live is to change; to be perfect is to have changed often”. One of the problems with the draft proposals is that they call for change without showing any awareness of the parish’s recent history and current development.
The Parish of Christ the King has been open to challenge and change throughout its history. It has been pioneering in its use of laity in all areas of parish life.
In 2015, the parish experienced significant change with the appointment of an Ordinariate priest as our Parish Priest and, at the same time, the designation of Christ the King as a base for the Walthamstow Ordinariate Mission. This time of transition asked a lot of the Parish, the Ordinariate and the priest. However, teething problems were fewer than anticipated and new relationships were quickly established. Members of the Ordinariate are engaged in all aspects of parish life and parishioners take part in local and national ordinariate events. A weekday evening mass has been introduced at which the Divine Worship Missal is used.
It would be senseless and tragic if, just two and a half years into this exciting partnership in mission, it were to be terminated to the detriment of all parties.
We propose that the mission of the Church in our locality is best served by maintaining the present situation of the parish being served by a priest of the Ordinariate and we ask the Bishop to enter into conversation with Mgr Newton.
It is our belief that this proposal is to the benefit of:
The Parish – which has undergone significant change and adjustment as it has welcomed the Ordinariate into its midst. The parish has engaged actively in the Stewards of the Gospel initiative and is committed to renewal. This proposal would create that essential stability that is needed to enable further renewal and evangelization
The Deanery and Wider Church – The Ordinariate priest assigned to the parish would continue his present ministries beyond our own parish and would be a support to other priests as the restructuring takes place.
Comments were invited by 25th March 2018.