In April this year, an amazing one hundred and fifty people met in St Joseph’s school hall in Nelson. These people represented the 400 plus parishioners and their family members who had indicated an interest in becoming members at the inception of Passionist Family groups in the combined parishes of St Francis of Assisi Stoke, and St Mary’s in Nelson. This amazing response was an accolade to the inspirational energy and commitment of Father Bill Warwick, who, charged with combining two independent parishes in the Nelson region, was committed to the importance of encouraging parishioners to become better acquainted with one another, to the point where they are able to spread true Christianity with care and concern for others mixed throughout the grass roots of these two parishes, now one. What better vehicle to use than the Passionist Family Movement!
Such a successful formation day followed weeks of explanations, discussions and networking by Father Bill, ending with addresses, at the four weekend Masses, by some parishioners who had previously been involved in Passionist Family Groups in other areas of the country. These personal experiences assisted parishioners to understand more fully what was involved. It encouraged them to come along and discover that it was possible to have fun while becoming a little more involved within the Parish, learning more about others and knowing when and how to gently support and assist other people in their times of need.
Following on from this Yvonne and Brendon Wilson were commissioned as Parish Family Group Leaders in May. Having already experienced the Family Group benefits in a very successful and vibrant group in the Plimmerton Parish, and having recently decided to settle in the Nelson Area, it was a unique opportunity to replace the special camaraderie they had left behind. They support the 12 group Coordinators who were commissioned at a Mass of their choice throughout May.
At the formation day all 12 new groups went away with a selected coordinator, and a plan for their next meeting. It was fascinating to watch as the coordinators of each group emerged, often reluctant at first, then leaving with a sense of commitment to make their group work. These people worked hard contacting by telephone, email and in person at Mass, all the members allocated within their groups., many of which over thirty in number. They encouraged them to attend an initial event where the majority of the groups chose a name and created a list of ongoing events over the following few months. Many of the names are meaningful: for example: JOY –joining old and young, The Allsorts, Pomalo -Croatian for take it easy as suggested by a Croatian member. Several of the groups have completed their planning into 2018.
The sense of pride, commitment and success within this group of coordinators was palpable at the first meeting of Co-coordinators held early in May. The buzz around the room was invigorating for everyone present. Since then all groups have held at least two events and some have held three.
Excitingly, there is a wide variety of people of different cultures and ethnic backgrounds within the Parish, and quite a few have registered their interest in becoming members of a Passionist Family group. Merging varied life styles, interests and cultures within Family Groups is an interesting challenge. Taken on by the group coordinators with great spirit. Within one group an Indian couple stepped up very quickly to host their Family group with a traditional Indian meal. Consequently, twenty-five people sat to a delicious meal cooked with care so that the members of the group could enjoy the food without too much of a spicy experience. All those present thoroughly enjoyed the evening, and appreciated the concern, care and the emotional commitment this wonderful couple had invested in the evening.
In June the Co-coordinators will meet again. At this meeting progress will be shared and special successes highlighted. Of most benefit will be the opportunity to listen to others and enjoy the benefits of Passionist Family groups at a different level. Winter, very wide, varying age groups and attendance numbers at events are all ongoing topics for discussion.
With the spirit of commitment to the Passionist Groups that the coordinators exhibit, and the progress already made, this is an exciting time and a ‘watch this space’ moment for the Parish of the Holy Family in Nelson.