We live such hectic, busy lives and often there is so little time to notice what is happening to us. Gathering together each week with fellow parishioners in “small faith sharing groups” offers an opportunity to slow down, sift through the things that count and become renewed in spirit. It becomes a place where members can pay attention to the presence of God in their daily lives and bring about a renewal in parish life.
The Parish as a Community of Many Small Communities
"One way of renewing parishes might be to consider the parish as a community of communities and movements.
"It seems timely therefore to form ecclesial communities and groups of a size that allows for true human relationships. This will make it possible to live communion more intensely, ensuring that it is fostered not only ad intra, but also with the parish communities to which such groups belong and with the entire diocesan and universal church.
"In such a human context it will be easier to gather to hear the word of God, to reflect on the range of human problems in the light of this word and gradually to make responsible decisions inspired by the all-embracing love of Christ."
Pope John Paul II "The Church in America"
Small Church Groups & “Faith Sharing”
"Small Church Groups are a face-to-face gathering of six to twelve people who invest time with one another for the common purpose of applying gospel values to every aspect of their lives."
Small Christian Communities: A Vision of Hope for the 21st Century.
What happens at a Small Church Group meeting?
A meeting always begins and concludes with a prayer. One person proclaims the Gospel reading for the next Sunday’s Mass. Followed by Group discussion on what the Gospel reading is saying to you and the group. This is where “faith sharing” becomes a reality. Suggested topics for discussion are in a study guide and will be made available to you. This is followed by time to reflect on how you as an individual or “Faith Sharing Group” can bring Christ into the life of the parish and our community around us. Through discussion of the Word ahead of the weekend mass you will find yourself listening more carefully and with deeper understanding of the gospel as it is proclaimed at mass. During the homily of the priest or deacon you will hear yet another perspective or even hear thoughts you had discussed within your group.
Who becomes a facilitator?
Anyone can be a facilitator. One person may be the group facilitator or the members of a group may rotate and share the responsibility for keeping things “on track” and/or hosting a group.
Where does a group meet?
You are encouraged to meet in individual homes. You may choose to meet in the same home each week or rotate among the groups members and share the facilitating and hosting aspects each week.
What if I do not have enough room in my home for a group?
Parish facilities are available by contacting the parish office in advance for scheduling purposes. To schedule a room for a weekly time and day of the week, or just one evening occasionally, please contact the parish office at 817-326-2131
How long does a group meet?
You are encouraged to meet in individual homes. Meetings generally will last 1 hour to 1 ˝ hours depending on how many people are in your group. Afterwards a light refreshment of cookies and coffee or something simple for a few minutes social time is suggested.
How often does a group meet?
Ideally once a week throughout the year, however there are times when individuals may be away on vacation or for other reasons but the remaining individuals in a group are encouraged to continue to meet each week.
If I am a Facilitator: Will I be required to prepare a lesson plan each week?
No, you will not need to prepare a lesson plan. Copies of a weekly study guide, “Faith Sharing” reflections on the Sunday gospel with topics for discussion will be made available each week for the parish.
“Faith Sharing” study guides will become available weekly on the shelf in the vestibule at the front entrance of the church. If you don’t find them there or require more copies please contact the parish office in person or you can get them by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
How can I become involved in a Small Church Group?
You may choose to form a group on your own of a size that allows for true human relationships (ideally 6 to 10 and not to exceed more than12 are suggested). You may wish to gather a group of people with whom you share something in common: i.e.; Single, Married, young or older, all of the above or any combination that will promote your groups ability to openly “share” our Catholic Faith. If you do not know anyone or of an existing group please let us know your need and we will work with you either to form a group or place you in a group.
We would like to know how many are in your group (and who your members are) in order that we can know how many study guides to make available and that we might have some idea what percentage of parishioners are involved in the “faith sharing” parish renewal process.
What must a facilitator know?
Small Church Group “Faith sharing” facilitators are . . .
- People who encourage participation and the sharing of our Christian faith. People who encourage the spiritual growth of the community and of the individual members through communal prayer and a prayerful atmosphere at meetings and through daily commitments by community members to prayer and reflection on the Scriptures.
- People who move the community to action to be carried out between meetings. They are not satisfied with a self-centered comfort level in the community but are always urging that the faith of the community be brought to impact on their daily lives and the world around them.
- Community builders who create a climate of hospitality and trust among all participants.
Small Church Group “Faith Sharing” facilitators are not . . .
- Theologians: The nature of the meeting is faith-sharing. Therefore, should a theological or scriptural question arise, the facilitator should turn to the pastor or pastoral staff person to seek guidance.
- Counselors: The small communities are not intended to be problem solving. This is an inappropriate setting to deal with emotionally-laden issues of a personal nature. The leader is clearly not to enter the realm of treating people with their emotional, in-depth feelings such as depression, anxiety and intense anger. When someone moves in this direction, beyond faith sharing, the facilitator should bring the community back to faith sharing. With the help of the pastor and/or pastoral staff, the person should be advised to seek the assistance of professional counseling.
- Teachers: The facilitators are not teachers. Their role is to guide the process of the faith-sharing as outlined in the materials.
Telephone Parish office: 817-326-2131