Various activities are an expression of parish life. Most have simple structures and are meant to serve
needs that are already present in the parish and the Balclutha community. Here are a few...
THE PARISH PASTORAL COUNCIL
This is a mainly elected body of parishioners who share the burden of
spiritual responsibility with the Parish Priest. It is an exercise in collaboration, where the Priest who has overall
responsibility for the parish, nevertheless encourages his parishioners, who are also his fellow-Christians, to work out
their obligation to be 'missionaries' where they live. The presence of Parish Councils is very much a Post Vatican
THE ST VINCENT DE PAUL SOCIETY
This is our practical local charity. Often goods given such as clothing are sold for whatever they can return, and the
money held for charity needs. Raw cash is not always what people need.
CATHOLIC WOMEN'S LEAGUE
This group represents organised feminine Catholic opinion. They meet monthly and have regional and national conferences.
Their other face is assistance at the basic level of human need such as providing refreshments at funerals or social
functions wherever this is seen to be necessary.
A phenomenon of modern devotional life is people praying together in groups. It's not everyone's cup of tea,
and indeed some of these which are charismatic in tone do not suit everyone. However there needs to be mutual forebearance
and understanding between traditional conservative people, and some moderns who feel most at home in this kind of prayer
environment. Generally within the parish we find groups to suit most people.
CHILDREN'S SACRAMENTAL STUDY
The presence of Catholic Schools has usually meant that a good deal of Sacramental
preparation was done by them. However there is a feeling that parents sometimes use this as a reason for not supplying the
input which only they can give.
So there has been a move in recent times to have the Parish made responsible for the remaining Sacraments of Initiation
after Baptism, i.e.. Confirmation and First Eucharist. The Parish tries to encourage parents in their role as first
educators of their own children.
On-going education is a requirement for any parish. Like the need to wash your face it is a daily necessity. Study of the
Scripture is the first among these. Currently we have groups studying the new Catechism, and the modern Christian
understanding of poverty, as well as the seasonal topics at Lent and Advent.
PASSIONIST FAMILY GROUPS
This movement was started by priests of the Passionist Order, hence its name. It begins at a purely social level and
attempts to mix up age, social, and professional groups. The underlying philosophy is that Christianity is a way of life,
not merely of doctrine and religious practice. It is quite undemanding, but it does illustrate how you can be a normal
human being in the best sense, and a Christian as well.
FAITH AND LIGHT
This is for disadvantaged children, and was inspired by Jean Vanier, the French priest who understood the hidden face of
God in those who labour under intellectual disability. It is a support group for those who have this special need.
These are mothers with small children who take Mary as their model for family living. Children are the hope of the Church
and of Society as well, so we recognise the unique needs of mothers, and the long term advantage they bring all of us.
This is an Anglican initiative, but it is aimed at a basic level of Christian understanding. Indeed those who have little
or no understanding of what Christianity is all about are catered for. At this level it is very easy to do the programme
ecumenically. If interest remains, and it usually does, those who took part are encouraged to return to their religious
roots, and make contact with their parent church.
Its success seems to be a mixture of the spiritual and the social. An essential part of the meetings is having a meal
together. The hymns and prayers are simple and non-threatening. Alpha does seem to be geared to where many retired
Christians have been hiding.
A Parish is as good as the dedication of the people who make it up. We can never say we have all the answers. Like any
other institution the Church is made up of human beings, who nevertheless believe that God is interested in the spiritual
life, His life that is in them.