ThE "CELEBRATION WEEK" MISSION
In a Celebration Week, we offer you a launch on the opening weekend: a Sion Community preacher will speak at all your Masses and the first special event is a Sunday afternoon parish gathering with our team of presenters; our parish visitors will spend the week knocking on the doors of known Catholics; and your people will be invited to three evening Celebration events on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On the closing weekend we propose a parish social on Saturday evening and, probably on Saturday morning, a motivation and training event. This is intended for the Parish in Mission team who will start or continue to deliver your ongoing mission after the Celebration Week. The Celebration Week concludes with the Sion Community preacher at all the Masses on the closing weekend.
We can optionally add events for young people or ecumenical gatherings, but experience shows us that these are only fruitful where there is a pre-existing youth group or strong inter-church links already.
THE "FESTIVAL WEEKEND" MISSION
In a Festival Weekend, we send a larger team to focus on your parish for one weekend, which may be a better format for committed parishioners who need to book time off work or parents with small children: our team will include children's leaders to help your parishioners deliver child-friendly activities on Saturday morning while adults have their own programme.
Our Festival Weekend team would arrive in your parish on Friday evening and meet the parishioners working with them to deliver the event; Friday evening is not for the wider parish but for the Sion Community missionaries and local team to pray, plan and prepare together.
On Saturday morning, we would offer events in parallel for your adult parishioners and younger children, using music, preaching and creative arts to communicate the Good News of our faith. The afternoon would be for a time of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, prayer for healing and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. A Sion Community preacher would speak at the Vigil Mass with a message about what it means to work together as a united community. Saturday would conclude with a social event , but with some light input from the mission team to reinforce our sense of mission.
On Sunday morning, where practical and possible, we would invite you to have just one Mass to bring together your whole community, even if this is a departure from your regular schedule. The Sion Community preacher will focus on how we carry out the mission of the Church - to invite all members to be missionary disciples, inviting new people to be followers of Jesus. At the end of Mass we will use a video or a live speaker to promote the "Parish in Mission" experience which will follow. In the late afternoon, we offer a workshop for those parishioners newly enthused to help deliver the "Parish in Mission" experience.
THE "IN-MISSION" EXPERIENCE
Sion Community no longer offers traditional "Parish Missions", where a team of visitors rally the parishioners and then disappear to leave the priest and parishioners alone to deal with what happens next. Rather, every mission event is now designed to help a parish launch (or reaffirm) its identity as a Parish in Mission.
A Parish in Mission is committed to keep delivering some kind of simple introduction to our Christian faith on a recurring basis (this can be reviewed when more than 90% of the entire population of your parish have become Catholics). Usually this will look like some kind of course which your parishioners will deliver at least once a term. We can work with you to identify the right course for your parish, but the most likely examples are Alpha and Discovering Christ.
Alpha is deliberately designed to present a basic introduction to the person of Jesus Christ, and elements of living as a Christian, using only those elements on which all major Christian denominations, including the Catholic Church, are in broad agreement. The course runs over 12 evening sessions and an away weekend (an away day is possible in a pinch) using high-quality videos filmed in 2016. Each video includes quotes from prominent Catholics, notably the Pope's preacher Fr Raniero Cantalamessa.
Discovering Christ is a shorter course (seven evening sessions and a retreat day) presented by a Catholic priest and a Catholic layman from the USA, filmed in a "talking head" format in front of a live audience. The content is explicitly Catholic and is carefully crafted to appeal to all shades of opinion within the Catholic Church.
Other "basic Gospel" courses are also available, including Sycamore (aimed at university students). We will work with you to choose the best course for your parish, and our mission package includes training for your team to start delivering the course and, if you wish, one or two Sion Community members to assist at the launch session.
We are also happy to help with subsequent training, or with helping you deliver the retreat portions of these courses, but we would hope for an additional financial contribution beyond the donation given for your Mission Event.
HOW EXPENSIVE IS IT?
A Sion Community Mission Event is an investment in the life and mission of your parish. While Sion Community does have volunteers and Associate Members who may assist with events, our core missions are delivered by our full-time team. Sion Community’s core members, who are mostly lay people, have chosen to live a life of poverty and simplicity so they can travel to parishes across the British Isles to help them become Parishes in Mission. We receive no central funding from the Catholic Church to do this - our support comes entirely from the parishes and schools who partner with us, and regular donors who believe in our work of mission.
As a charity, we do not charge a fixed cost for our Parish Mission Events, but we do rely on parishes offering a generous donation, without which we wouldn't be able to sustain a full-time mission team. We do therefore offer a guideline for a suggested donation which will enable us to continue working with parishes.
Before you look at the figures below, ask yourself what level of income you would need personally to survive for one week: food, accommodation, utility bills, transport, pocket money for reasonable relaxation. Now multiply that number by ten. Why ten? For a Celebration Week, typically five Sion Community team members will devote two weeks of their lives to invest their time and talents in your parish - the two weeks include preparation and recovery time. For a Festival Weekend, we will send a larger team of around 8 people who will spend more time off-site preparing what they will deliver on-site, and two people on an advance visit a month beforehand; with recovery time, again this will be several weeks of our missionaries’ working lives invested in your parish.
So now, when you look at the figures below, ask yourself, is this a very big or a very small amount to pay for ten weeks of professional input by a team of passionate Catholic missionaries? Even so, if these figures would be prohibitive because of your parish's situation, we are always open to discussions about what might be workable for all parties.
Now you can hover your mouse over the option which interests you to see our suggested donation...
Become a Parish in Mission with Sion Community
We run parish missions. It’s our core activity - for more than 30 years, Sion Community teams have visited parishes the length and breadth of the British Isles, offering a week filled with stirring and reflective music, passionate preaching, guided prayer and home visits. In the past, we have offered parishes the chance for a Sion Team to run a two-week mission which focuses energy in the parish and helps some of the parishioners who take part to move to a deeper level of knowledge and commitment in their personal sense of connection with Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
In 2019, we are conscious that the Catholic Church in Britain needs a fresh approach. Our urban parishes are filled with members of diverse ethnic communities; our rural parishes are served by priests who now have to spread their energy over smaller communities worshipping in several buildings over a wider area. Patterns of work and childcare have changed, meaning it’s harder even for faithful Catholics to turn out every night for a week of mission activities. What will help your parish and your people to thrive in these challenging circumstances?
Sion Community no longer simply offers Parish Missions. Rather, Sion Community wants to partner with your community to help you become a Parish in Mission. A Sion Team will still come and deliver a Mission Event in your parish, but as a launchpad for your own parishioners to become in-parish missionaries. We will work with your parish to identify the most appropriate way you can continue to offer the riches of the faith to your local community, and offer some training so you can follow your parish Sion Mission Event with something that will bless the lives of people who weren’t willing or able to come to it. As a Parish in Mission in partnership with us, your parish will always be using its own resources to keep delivering events which stir and deepen faith.
We are now offering two mission formats to parishes, the Celebration Week, and the Festival Weekend. If neither seem the right fit for your parish, we are happy to work with you to find a format that meets your needs. You can read more in the info boxes on this page, and please contact us as soon as you are ready to speak with our pre-mission coordinator. We offer an initial consultation visit free of charge, but you will need to pay a deposit to secure the dates for a planned mission.