Analysis of the questionnaire and discussions within the Parish have revealed the following priorities:
a) More involvement from the youth of the Parish.
Plans are being made for a senior youth club to be formed which will cater for 14+ years. A disco is planned for 28th April where young people are encouraged to attend and give their ideas of what they would like to see happen. It is hoped the 16-young people, who were confirmed recently, will get involved. A group of 14 younger children have committed themselves to joining the Offertory procession team at the 9.00 Mass on Sunday mornings. St Francis school will also be working hard to join with the Parish after Easter.
b) More community support is wanted within the Parish.
Tea and coffee after 9.00 Mass has been restarted and, along with the established session after 11:00 Mass, is proving to be very popular. Steward of the Gospel social evenings were warmly received. Although those attending were few in number, the commitment was first class. More are planned in the future. Neighbourhood groups will be started within the Parish, which will build community spirit throughout the Parish.
c) More communication with other Parishes in the area (North Essex Deanery).
This has already started with meetings and discussions within the Steward of the Gospel Geographical groups. The Parishes involved are Stansted, Saffron Walden, Gt Dunmow. Gt. Bardfield and Thaxted, Halstead, Braintree, Kelvedon and Maldon. Further discussions will take place.
d) More communication with other Churches and Religions within the Braintree area.
Responses from the questions showed that many of the Parishioners were involved in various Outreach projects on an individual basis. It is hoped that these can be developed where the Parish can become involved.
e) More effective management in Parish by Parish Council and Finance Committee to relieve the workload on the Priest, if he is required to attend to the spiritual needs of more than one Parish.
The Parish Council needs to effectively take over the Administration and Running of the Parish, meeting on a monthly or six-weekly basis. The Finance Committee would be one of the executive working groups of the Parish Council. The Parish Council would, therefore, be made up of representatives from each Parish and Neighbourhood group thereby enabling a truly representative group being aware of the needs and activities within the parish. The Parish Priest will then be freed to concentrate on the Spiritual life and development of the parish or parishes.
Anything less than the above will continue to assist the slow decline which has been evident in Mass attendance, the falling away of young people and the lack of Priests: where those who remain will be required to cover two, sometimes three parishes, in the years to come. We see the newly-formed Parish Council, set out above, as a dynamic body supporting the parish priest and rebuilding the parish community in a caring and accountable way. We feel that reforming the Parish Council as outlined above should take place as soon as possible, waiting for the time when the Priest may have to cover more than one Parish could be too late. Better to be prepared and ready to meet these challenges if they arise.