Revitalization at St. Mark's
To be the face of Jesus in the world,
where church matters and a relationship with Jesus Christ is central to every person.
Go and Make Disciples
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why do we need to change?
While we have much to celebrate here at St. Mark’s, there are changes we can make to help us reach our full potential as a vibrant and growing community of believers. As part of the diocesan revitalization process, Bishop Harris has asked every parish to look at what they are doing in order to revitalize our diocesan church, contribute to the creation of vibrant faith communities which will be evangelizing presences in our midst, and leave a legacy of faith for the future. Parishioners who attended the recent Divine Renovation conference hosted by St. Benedict Parish in Halifax experienced the fruits of such revitalization first hand.
2. Why did we change our mission statement?
Our original mission statement was created when the Parish of St. Mark was new. That was 40 years ago! While we will continue to honour our past, we need a mission statement that excites us about what we need to accomplish today. Our new mission statement will become the measuring stick for everything we do at St. Mark’s. It reflects Jesus’ command to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19). While our mission statement may seem new at first glance, it really just builds on a directive that has appeared in our church for years- “Go, you are sent!”
3. What is the difference between a mission and a vision statement?
A mission statement describes what we want to do right now. A vision statement describes what we want to become in the future.
4. Did we previously have a vision statement?
No, we did not previously have a vision statement, only a mission statement.
5. Who developed the new parish vision and mission statements, and when?
They were developed by the interim Parish Support Team, including Fr. Burns. Both statements were reviewed by Parish Pastoral Council at their September meeting.
6. Did parishioners have input into the creation of our new mission statement?
The members of the interim Parish Support Team are all parishioners of St. Mark’s. Some are familiar faces, who have attended St. Mark’s for almost 40 years, while others are newer to our parish. They bring a variety of skills and experience to the Team. Among them, they have served in more than 20 ministries!
7. Who were the members of the “interim team” who helped with the initial parish revitalization?
The interim team consisted of Fr. Burns, Dianne Beyea (staff), Michele Connors (Parish Pastoral Council Chair), Wendy Ellis (staff), Don Gagnon, Kathy Goudreau, Cheryl Mangusso, Anne Stroud and Bill Stroud. The Parish Support Team now also includes Cathy Rignanesi.
8. How was the interim team chosen?
Fr. Burns invited these parishioners to help because all are active in parish ministries and most have also attended the Alpha program or the recent Divine Renovation (DR18) conference hosted by St. Benedict Parish in Halifax. They are able to provide input from the perspective of both long-term parishioners and those newer to our parish.
9. What is the role of the Parish Support Team?
Designated members of the team, both parishioners and staff, will be responsible for liaising with and supporting specific ministries, committees and staff members.
10. Why do we need a Parish Support Team? (In the past, ministry coordinators worked directly with our pastor.)
Revitalizing a parish is a job that is too big for one person, even if that person is a pastor! Many changes have occurred at the diocesan level, and the Church is experiencing a shortage of priests. This means that many parish priests are now also filling diocesan roles. We are also working hard to grow our parish by bringing Jesus to the world. There are currently almost 40 active ministries here at St. Mark’s, so Fr. Burns will not be able to directly support all of them. In his presentation at the Divine Renovation 2018 Conference held in Halifax in June, Fr. James Mallon stated that only 31% of a pastor’s time is typically spent on preaching, celebrating the sacraments and leading his parish. Having a Parish Support Team will allow Fr. Burns to focus more of his time on his main responsibilities, while ensuring that ministries can still be fully supported as they fulfill our parish mission.
11. Why do we need a Parish Support Team when we already have a Parish Pastoral Council?
These two groups actually have quite different roles and responsibilities. While Parish Pastoral Council is intended to concentrate, over time, on visioning and long-term planning, the Parish Support Team is expected to manage program operations, along with implementation of plans in the short to medium terms. While we are still working on defining the specific roles and responsibilities of each group and how they interact, having a Parish Support Team will allow Parish Pastoral Council to focus on the future of our parish.
12. What is the difference between Parish Support Team Administrators and our current ministry coordinators?
Ministry coordinators support specific ministries. The addition of Parish Support Team Administrators will not eliminate the need for ministry coordinators. Administrators will support the coordinators and ministries in their focus area by facilitating the flow of information from, and to, the pastor. This will ensure that work being done in the parish is understood and supported, and that we are collectively moving the parish vision and mission forward. Adoption of this structure has proven to be effective in helping ministries to thrive in highly successful parishes like St. Benedict Parish in Halifax.
13. Will Parish Support Team Administrators control the budgets of the ministries in their focus areas?
We are still in the early stages of developing structure and refining responsibilities and this has not yet been discussed.
14. Are the changes we have seen already a result of this team’s work?
No, the team was only formed over the summer. The changes we have seen over the past year, such as the reorganization of chairs, the move to one Sunday morning Mass, and the decision to move the tabernacle resulted from the recommendations of several groups in our parish, including our Parish Pastoral Council.These changes support the diocesan vision goals of full churches and a community of growing disciples who share their faith, support one another, and lead others to Jesus Christ. Our team is excited to see the seeds of revitalization being planted at St. Mark’s!
15. In the future, will members of the Parish Support Team be elected instead of appointed? Or can parishioners apply for these positions?
Members of the Parish Support Team are appointed by Fr. Burns after a period of discernment, and work closely with him. Selection by personal invitation is important, in order to create a balanced team. Parishioners who are interested in becoming involved are encouraged to speak to Fr. Burns. Meanwhile, please continue to grow in the ministry to which you feel called.
16. How can I get involved?
Thank you for being excited about the future of our parish and willing to give of your time and talent! We are still in the very early stages of the planning work. Your support through prayer is vitally important – please pray for revitalization here at St. Mark’s and across our diocese. Keep watching our parish website and bulletin for opportunities to contribute to the revitalization as we move forward. Our Parish Pastoral Council has read and discussed two books on revitalization, Divine Renovation by Fr. James Mallon and Rebuilt by Fr. Michael White and Tom Corcoran. You may want to read these. Copies are available in our library, The Catholic Bookstore and regular bookstores like Amazon and Indigo.
17. Why are we adding a Mass at 7:00 p.m. on Sundays? (When one of our Sunday morning Masses was discontinued, we were told that it was because we did not have enough parishioners attending to justify three weekend Masses.)
The addition of a 7:00 p.m. Mass on Sundays will help to address a gap in the Saint John region. At present, there is no Mass held at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday in our region of the diocese, that is, from Sussex to St. Stephen. People who travel on weekends, have cottages, work on Sundays or whose children are involved in many extra-curricular activities, may benefit from a later Mass.
18. Didn’t see your question here? Need more information?
Please send your questions to us HERE.
Letter from Fr. Owen Burns
Frequently Asked Questions Click HERE
Dear Parishioners of St. Mark’s,
The Diocese of Saint John is in the midst of a process of realignment and revitalization. Our parish has not been directly affected by that realignment, but we are still very much a part of the revitalization process. While we have much to celebrate here at St. Mark’s, there are changes we can make so that we can reach our full potential as a vibrant and growing community of believers. Our parish must continue to serve our current members while also better fulfilling our mission to “Go and make disciples.”
What does revitalization mean for our parish? It means an opportunity to grow and energize our faith community. Revitalization is about healthy parishes, proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ and creating disciples who are growing in their faith. It is about renewing our relationship with our loving God.
Many of you have already identified opportunities for revitalization here at St. Mark’s. Your comments in the Disciple Maker Index Survey have been most helpful in shining a light on areas where we are doing well and on areas where we need to do better.
Some changes have already taken place. Mass times have been adjusted based upon your input and unneeded chairs were removed to bring us closer together and add energy to our worship experience.
Our Parish Pastoral Council has made learning how other parishes are renewing and transforming into evangelizing communities a priority. Council has discussed two wonderful books about parish transformation: Divine Renovation by Fr. James Mallon and Rebuilt by Fr. Michael White and Tom Corcoran. Council members are eager to discern how their learnings can be adapted for our own parish. If you would like to learn more, these books are available to be borrowed in our library. Copies may also be purchased at The Catholic Book Store and on-line.
Six of our parishioners attended the Divine Renovation 2018 Conference held in Halifax in June. Over 650 delegates from around the world experienced the Divine Renovation movement first hand and saw how it can renew and energize parishes.
I have invited a small interim team of parishioners and staff, some familiar faces along with some new faces, to discern ways to help us renew, re-engage and revitalize our parish. This work has just begun. Although there is no final plan, I believe it is important that you know that this work is underway. If we are to succeed, St. Mark’s will need your support, your talents and your prayers. Growing our parish will be a long-term process!
Change can sometimes feel uncomfortable, even when it is change for the better. I have heard from parishioners that there is a need for more timely communication when changes are to be introduced. I am excited about the possibilities, and I will ensure that changes from the revitalization process are communicated to you in advance whenever possible.
We may soon see new faces in our midst, as parishes realign. I invite you to make welcome all who visit us, and I ask you to continue to pray for the revitalization of our diocese and our parish.
Father Owen Burns