St Werburgh's Roman Catholic Parish, Chester

Parish Renewal

Dear Parishioners of St Werburgh’s,

Spring 2023: Moving forward on Parish Renewal

Just over a year ago St Werburgh’s sent a letter to Bishop Mark, which summarised our parish contribution to Pope Francis’ invitation to take part in the Synodal Process, ‘Journeying Together’. This aimed to explore parishioners’ views of the Church: what we loved, what we disliked and what needed to change. What emerged was our desire as a Parish to move forward with what has become our Parish Renewal.

In Autumn 2022 a four-week general Parish Consultation was held, asking the key questions ‘What is the overall aim or VISION?’….

  • … in this process?
  • … in the whole challenge of being a Catholic Parish in England and Wales in 2023?
  • … in being the Kingdom of God?
  • … in being not just a Parish but being the best Parish we possibly can be?
  • … in handing our parish over to the next generation in at least as good a state as we inherited it ourselves?


And the word that kept coming to the fore was WELCOME, centred on the welcoming nature of the Sunday Mass, but radiating outwards to eight specific welcomes:


General Parish Consultation – Autumn 2022

This consultation asked four key questions about aspects of our parish life together.

  1. What do we want to carry on doing?
  2. What needs building upon, with some changes?
  3. What needs dropping?
  4. What needs starting that we’d never done before?

Many and varied answers came in. There were different levels of support for different suggestions, some were ‘just one person’s hobby horse’ and others ‘the overwhelming feeling of the parish’. Some views gloriously opposed each other – ‘we definitely want to re-introduce the physical sign of peace’ versus ‘glad it’s gone’. But it did show us the range of ideas submitted and how seriously everyone took the invitation to send in their answers to our four questions.

To complement this exploration of parish life, a checklist of existing and possible new parish activities was circulated, and everyone was invited to tick any in which they’d like to get more involved. Many parishioners responded very constructively, and this has enabled us to identify how we as a parish feel we want to move forward - our Listening Phase.

Collating all the responses in order to report back to the parish was no mean feat, and this work had to be fitted around day-to-day parish life. A small group of dedicated parishioners collated all the initial responses and now a Renewal Steering Group (RSG) has been set up, to analyse the responses further and to work out the best way to progress with this excellent input from parishioners: our Deliberation Phase.

The result of the listening and deliberation undertaken now provides the basis for our Vision Phase for St Werburgh’s:


‘Putting our Vision into Action’

This Report to Parish goes out today, Pentecost Sunday, 28th May 2023, which marks the birth of the Church. We want it also to mark the start of the next phase for St Werburgh’s Renewal Programme. Indeed, some work has already started. Please can everyone read the report carefully and prayerfully, and be ready to move forward together on the important task of translating our vision into action?

Over the next few weeks, the RSG will produce a roadmap allowing everyone to get involved in the areas where they have expressed specific interest. This will be implemented over the next twelve months. The roadmap will address both significant key initiatives and ‘quick wins’. Some can be achieved in days where others will take weeks or months.  Importantly, the RSG will aim to provide a monthly update to the parish.


Renewal Steering Group and Fr Paul

28th May 2023