Northampton Roman Catholic Diocese, like many today in contemporary society, is faced with a series of significant issues, which include a changing demographic and a decline in the numbers of priests and religious.
Task and Response
In 2007, soon after his appointment as Bishop of Northampton Diocese, +Peter Doyle presented a vision address to the diocese, outlining how he would like to see it develop during his episcopacy. He took as his motto a quotation from the prophet Micah, ‘to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with our God’. Announcing three streams of effort and energy to move things forward, he invited the participation of all his people in charting the future.
Mark Davis of ‘The Shoreline Consultancy’ was asked to assist to facilitating the strategic development arm of the process and has, since then, been part of an advisory group for Bishop Peter as the ‘Walking Humbly Process’ has unfolded.
Over the last few years he has devised a number of adult formation initiatives for use in the diocese and a development process for Church communities in transition called, ‘The Micah Conversation’. He and his colleagues are also responsible for the creation of an innovative on-line adult education process called ‘Pathways of Formation’ which has been successfully piloted in the diocese.
This journey of development has borne significant fruit in a number of ways with new pastoral areas creating their own groundplans for development, within certain diocesan guidelines, in their locality. Local Pastoral Area Councils have been established to co-ordinate local initiatives and an overarching template for pastoral development entitled, ‘The 12 Marks of a Thriving Catholic Community’ has been drawn up and established. The Micah Conversation has been successfully delivered by specially trained diocesan facilitators in a number of parishes throughout the diocese and is now being adopted in several other varied contexts.