Update on the Diocesan Discernment Process:

Spring 2017

PART 1 of 2

Here at St. Kevin’s we were very fortunate that our Discernment Process, mandated by the Diocese of St. Catharines, went smoothly. You may recall completing the Parish Survey back in April of 2015. And in January & February 2016 we reported the results of the survey to the Parish. We were fortunate that our surveys yielded positive feedback from our Parishioners. For that we are grateful. Although it is wonderful to learn of what we are doing well, it is vital to know what worries our Parishioners or where they would like us to concentrate our efforts. Our survey results indicated that St. Kevin’s Parishioners had the following concerns:

  • Respondents were asked to provide the three greatest challenges or needs facing St. Kevin Parish. The responses were grouped into categories of similar content. The top three categories are as follows. The first most frequent challenge or need relates to young people including youth, children, young families and young adults. Some respondents spoke about them not attending Mass, and others talked about engaging and involving young people in the activities of the parish. The second most frequent challenge or need is outreach. This focuses on helping the poor and feeding the hungry, and also reaching out to seniors, widows, single parents, single adults, and those alienated and marginalized. The third category was the issue of attendance, specifically our dwindling participation and an aging population. Some expressed the need to attract or invite new parishioners and to bring back those who have left.  

From these results we decided to focus on the issues of our youth and our attendance. We chose not to focus as much on outreach given that we already have a number of ministries working out of our Parish (ex. Food Bank, St. Vincent de Paul, Harvest Kitchen, Bereavement, Social Justice, Hospital Visitation, Long-Term Care Facility/Retirement Home Masses & Eucharistic Ministry to Parishioners unable to attend Mass). We will continue to work with those ministries and support them in their respective mandates.
In choosing to focus on our concerns of youth and attendance, it seemed quite apparent that these two issues are intrinsically connected. If we can reach out to and integrate our young families who may not be joining us for Mass each week or whom we only encounter when their child is making a Sacrament, then not only are we inspiring our youth, but we connect with their families and strengthen our Parish community at the same time. These families have the spark of faith and we hope to reignite it.
Over the past year or more we have strived to really listen to our young Parishioners – what they need and want in a Parish – and to create more opportunities that challenge our youth to become more involved in Parish life.
Next week we will outline concrete steps that we have taken to strengthen our Youth and Family Ministry over the course of the past several months, and what activities/initiatives we have implemented.

Update on the Diocesan Discernment Process:

PART 2 of 2

The following are concrete steps that we have taken to strengthen our Youth and Family Ministry over the course of the past several months, and what activities/initiatives we have implemented.

  • Initially Fr. Vijai met with his Pastoral Council and the Youth Ministry Team to review the results of the Parish Survey. It was decided that we should not simply focus on youth or children but we must be inclusive of the whole family. As such, in the spring of 2016 our Youth Ministry officially became our Youth & Family Ministry.In October 2016 St. Kevin’s Parish established a Children/Youth Choir. The children began practicing twice per month with our Music Ministry leaders and currently sing at our 5:00p.m. Mass on the last Sunday of each month. The Youth Choir sang at our 5:00p.m. Christmas Eve 2016 Celebration and they sang in conjunction with our Adult Choir at our 10:00a.m. Mass on Easter Sunday 2017.

  • Our Faith In Action Team (FIAT) was formulated in Fall 2016. Our Youth and Family Ministry in partnership with our three Catholic Elementary Schools, St. Kevin, Holy Name and Alexander Kuska, worked to create the FIAT. The Principal from each school chose 5 children from Grades 6, 7 & 8 that would represent their school and be the liaison between the school(s) and St. Kevin’s Parish, hence comprising a team of 15. Essentially, the team is responsible for promoting and assisting with faith based activities in their own schools, along with St. Kevin’s Parish Youth and Family activities throughout the school year.  In November 2016, Fr. Vijai selected and invited a cross-section of members from the Parish to attend a very important meeting with regards to the direction of our Youth and Family Ministry. The meeting challenged us to evaluate what the Parish can offer and organize for our youth and their families, while also being open to what our young Parishioners can offer in faith to the Parish.

  • One of the ideas of our group meeting and one of the key initiatives of the FIAT is to host our Youth & Family Mass at St. Kevin’s Parish. The 5:00p.m. Mass on the last Sunday of each month throughout the school year has now been dedicated to our youth and their families. The Youth Choir will sing at these Masses, and our FIAT members will take on the responsibility of animating the Mass. The team will also play a key role in promoting the Masses to their fellow students. In addition, it is the goal of our FIAT team to coordinate an activity for youth and their families to happen directly following each Youth Mass, with each school taking a turn to host.

  • So far we have had two Youth & Family Masses:

    Sunday, March 26 at 5:00p.m.
    - At this Mass our Notre Dame College School students led the Mass as part of their THINKfast Activity.
    - Following the Mass, the THINKfast participants had an opportunity to share a solidarity meal and bond with the FIAT members, who engaged in a brainstorming session about which social activities could be partnered with our upcoming Youth & Family Masses.

    Sunday, April 30th at 5:00p.m.
    - St. Kevin’s School/FIAT members led our Mass and directly afterwards all families present were welcomed to come together in the Parish Hall for a social gathering and refreshments.

  • In the spirit of Catholic Education week and in furthering the relationship between our Parish and the schools, our Parish helped to coordinate a Ministry Fair at St. Kevin’s School on May 2nd. Members from several of the Ministries that are part of our Parish were present to speak with the students about what these groups do in serving the people of St. Kevin’s and our community at large.

Parish Discernment Process                                      January 18, 2016

Please Note:  I do not recommend printing the survey results.  It is 30 pages long!!!

To the members of the Pastoral Council:

Attached to this email, you will find several documents.  Each of these documents is provided to help you in understanding the background of the process our parish has been involved in with the Diocese.  At the meeting on Tuesday, we will be discussing the process and how we are to move forward here at St. Kevin’s.  The amount of information from the survey may seem a little overwhelming but I felt in fairness, you should have the opportunity to look it over to understand the directions that the “team” would like to encourage us, as a Parish, to follow.

A Quick Review of the Process:

  • The Bishop approached each Parish in Welland and asked that we enter into a Parish Discernment Process.  The pastor of each Parish was asked to form a Parish Discernment Team.  Ours consisted of 8 members.
  • The team met with teams from the other Welland Parishes and the Diocesan Team and was led through a session of how the process was going to work. 
    We were sent back to our Parishes to build our Parish Story which we did in February of 2015.
  • Summaries of the Parish Story were then carried back to the next Diocesan meeting and each parish shared.
  • The next step was the Parish Needs Survey.  We completed the Survey and sent them to the diocesan office to be compiled.  (March 2015)
  • In the fall of 2015, we returned to receive our survey results and an explanation of how and why the results returned to us in the format given.  (Please see, “Survey Results”)
  • The team was now responsible for looking over the results of the survey and preparing a report for November.  ( Please see the document, “Next Steps”.)
  • Each Pastor was instructed at this meeting to form a team of 3 people, including the Pastor to begin the process of implementing a plan to address those areas of  parish life we need to work on.  This team met with the teams from the other Welland parishes and the Diocesan Team on December 12, 2015.  At that time each parish presented a report for their future plans.  (Please see, “Parish Discernment Process, December 12, 2015”.)

We are very fortunate at St. Kevin’s, to find ourselves with excellent Pastoral leadership and we are financially able to continue as a vibrant faith community in Welland.  This does not mean that there is not work to be done.  As you have seen from the document we presented at the Dec. 12th meeting, our plan is to address:

  • Providing the parish with a summary of the survey results.
  • An examination of Ministry Needs and providing parishioners with information about our ministries and opportunities to volunteer.
  • The organization of Youth Ministry focused on Family, Youth, and Children.

The Pastoral Council will be playing a key role in implementing the suggestions, as the work of the Parish Discernment Committee draws to an end.


Update to the Parishioners - Week 2 (Part 2 of 4)

As part of the Parish Needs Assessment Process, the Parish Needs Survey was conducted in all parishes in Welland. St. Kevin’s Parish participated in this survey; it was distributed in the pews at all weekend Masses on April 11 and 12, 2015. In all, there were 757 valid completed surveys from our Parish. The characteristics of the respondents, as well as major findings are described below.

Demographic Characteristics of Respondents
More than three in five respondents are female. The average age of respondents is 63 years, with an age range between 16 to 95 years (*only those 16 and over were invited to complete the survey). Two in three respondents are 60 years of age or older. Nearly seven in ten respondents are married or remarried. For respondents’ highest level of education, more than three in five respondents went beyond high school to college or university, one in five respondents completed high school, and less than one in five respondents completed some high school or less.

Activities of Respondents in the Parish
Nine in ten respondents are registered at St. Kevin and nearly all respondents indicate that this parish is their primary place of worship. Respondents have been attending this parish on average for 26 years, with length of attendance ranging from 1 year or less to 69 years. Nearly two in three respondents attend Mass every week or more often. More than one in four attends Mass almost every week. More than one in three respondents is involved in one or more ministries or activities. More than three in five respondents are not involved in any ministries or activities with the parish.

Major Findings can be summarized as follows:                  

Aspects of Parish Life

    • Respondents were asked to provide three things they like best about St. Kevin Parish. The responses were grouped into categories of similar content. The top three categories are as follows. The first focused on the strong sense of community, meaning that they viewed the Parish community as friendly, warm and inviting, with a feeling of belonging and sense of family. Secondly, respondents liked many aspects of our liturgies including the quality of Mass, homilies, the music and choir. The third most frequent set of responses focused on the Pastor and Priests. They were described as friendly, warm, knowledgeable, approachable and humorous.

    • Nearly all respondents evaluated the quality of liturgies, the quality of music, and the liturgical decorations and environment as “good” or “excellent.”

    • More than four in five respondents evaluated the leadership provided by the pastor as “excellent.”

    • More than nine in ten respondents agree “somewhat” or “strongly” that they would feel comfortable talking with the Pastor.

    • Four in five respondents evaluated the service provided by Priests and Deacons as “excellent.”

    • Nearly all respondents evaluated the parish’s commitment to social justice as “good” or “excellent.”

    • More than nine in ten respondents evaluated as “good” or “excellent”:

    • opportunities for spiritual growth

    • spreading the Gospel/evangelizing

    • encouragement to share your time, talents and treasure

    • Two in three (66%) evaluated the vision provided by parish leaders as “excellent.”