Nativity's Synod Results and Responses
As a result of the recent synod experience, Nativity was provided with many good suggestions to strengthen/support our community. The following are items which we are presently implementing. We will include more information over the next weeks.
What would help Nativity to strengthen an active participation in the sacramental life of the Church?
- Catholic Remediation Classes Nativity will begin an Introduction to the Faith for Catholics Class beginning in Sept. The class will cover the basic teachings of the faith. The class will be at 6:30 on Wednesday evenings during Wed. night Faith Formation.
How could Nativity enhance our current practices to promote and engender a communal Church that lives out its Christian faith?
- Mass cards to follow for the Mass. In our announcements we now direct those we wish, or need to follow the Mass to the specific page in the St. Augustine Hymnals to follow along with the service.
- Let everyone know what each ministry does. We have attempted to spotlight a ministry each month in the narthex but it wasn’t very successful. We will be gathering specific information on each ministry (which is on our website) for publication in our weekly bulletins. Each ministry will compose a description/invitation and perhaps pictures pertaining to each group.
- Increase expectations of participation for youth in education programs as well as make church more important than other extra-curricular activities. We have steadily increased expectations of participation in our programs over the last three years. Attendance has been taken and followed up with notes/communication. This year, only three absences will be allowed without a conference. We have had individuals repeat course work which was not completed or wait on a sacrament until such work is completed. Additionally, we are now offering Faith Formation on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. This allows for single parents with custody issues to fully participate and also students to participate in other endeavors which were keeping them from education attendance.
- The adults do not know the faith. To this, we are adding a class on the basics of the Faith. This class will meet on Wednesday evenings during the Wednesday Faith Formation classes. This class is for anyone past Confirmation that wants to re-learn or brush up on the basic tenets of the faith.
Does our parish foster a Spirit-filled sense of belonging with and among the laity, new members, and visitors?
- The responses included: parishioners feel safe at church. The leadership and laity are extremely welcoming. new parishioners are personally contacted and informed of opportunities.
- We should contact each new parishioner personally. In fact, we have a committee of several people, including our Latino community who do personally contact every new parishioner. They inform members of the availabilities to get connect in community activities. Father contacts those who state that they would like to return to an active practice of the faith or are interested in becoming Catholics.
How might we make the parish more welcoming and cohesive?
- Prepare a welcome package. Nativity has prepared welcome packages with all necessary contact and registration forms and procedures which is handed to every new member when they ask for a form to sign up to be a member. We have overlooked parishioners who sign up on-line and will try to provide for these individuals the same information.
- We need a new church directory. We are currently looking at several companies to begin this process again. Although the last directory was only a little over 3 years ago, it is very obvious that we need to redo this project. We also are planning on adding a yearly supplement to the directory so we can keep up with new parishioners.
- Develop neighborhood groups for community and socialization. We have such a group at the Del Webb community with many members. They participate in activities together. We can also look at doing this in other neighborhoods.
- We should let people know they can join ministries at any time. We attempted a continuing presentation of ministries in the narthex but this did not work well. We will be reaching out to all ministries to write up the goals, requirements and activities of their group which will be included in the bulletin. We presently have the first ministry composing this information for publication.
- Spice up the bulletin. We have removed the readings for the Latino community’s Mass. We are adding more education, information, and pictures. We are also beginning to include weddings, baptisms, births and sacramental reception by name so that members may contact and congratulate those individuals. We are providing more space for content.
- Prepare a booklet of services provided by our membership. We are in the process of beginning to collect this information to prepare a booklet of members who provide the community with such services as auto sales, heating/air, or any service which will include contact information.
Does our parish provide calming respite from the anxieties and busyness of the world?
Church is calming with adoration, confession is very available, sanctuary open during the day, Rosary walk offers a calm setting.
How might we create better opportunities and space for reprieve?
Offer a bereavement group, divorced, single’s ministry, and/or widows, providing child care for events, more general retreats for larger groups, laity training lesson. Response: We have 4 instructional classes planned for the Fall and one implemented for this Summer. We have hired a person to oversee the nursery to offer more opportunities for childcare during events. We have attempted a young adult ministry but have not had a lot of success but are actively looking at this lapse in our program. For bereavement, we offer the Phoenix Group which meets weekly to deal with individual issues. We also have some individuals who are meeting, without cost to assist with personal problems on a one on one manner. The suggestion of a divorced/widows group has not been raised before, but we will look at support for this effort. We do offer Hearts and Hands which assists with funerals and are in the process of establishing a meal delivery ministry for recent surgeries, conditions of homebound and other situations where a meal is needed to be delivered. We are constantly looking to improve communication for new members to be trained by ministry leaders such as lectors, Eucharistic ministers, ushers, Ambassadors, altar servers, etc…
How well does our parish foster a lay participation in the life of the Church (i.e. volunteers, extraordinary ministers, etc.)?
We just obtained 12 new altar servers. The ministry fair does a great job pulling in people, Teen groups are doing well, 8 new Extraordinary Ministers, Corporate rosary before Mass, our current large events are all positive communicating efforts to others outside the community.
How might we increase such participation more fully?
It’s really hard to get your parents to church for an hour, parents are dropping off kids and leaving. More ushers, invitations to participate MUST be in person, women deacons in the future, Flocknotes are not as effective as we hope. We need electronic and hard copy, invite church leaders in our area for meeting, communication, social, make sure we are connected to the local Chamber of Commerce, live Nativity scene prompting within Maury and Williamson Counties, utilize visuals such as podcasts and pictures in the bulletin with ministry groups promoted more often, cross participations among ministries to get to know each other; personal connection, ministry information out to new parishioners. Response: Interesting to note that a youth group mentioned that it is hard to get your parents to church for an hour! In terms of parents dropping off kids for education and not staying for Mass, we are tightening up our expectations of adults and students for Faith Formation with the hopes of better attendance and participation. Every new member is personally contacted and directed to ministry contacts. Women deacons are up to the universal church, but it would be a great step for women in the Church and well received! In addition to Flocknotes, we do have written communication in the bulletin, Instagram, Facebook, narthex monitors, and a parish app. The connectivity with other church leaders in our area has been very lacking. ANY ideas would be very much appreciated. Father attended a gather of religious business leaders, but it was not a ministerial group as was hoped. Not sure of the manpower for a live Nativity scene, but a good idea (St. Henry’s does this). Also, not sure of a connection with the Chamber of Commerce; ideas would be appreciated. Cross participation is getting better, but some improvement is called for. The Fish Fry and Picnic are a group effort getting better and better in participation. We have hired and recently expanded a position in electronic communication for the church.
How vibrant are our youth programs/ Are we adequately giving voice to the youth and young adults in our community?
Our young groups are very vibrant and visible, there is a strong presence in the youth groups we have, the teens running the 5:00 Sunday Mass is good, all ministries are open to Confirmed individuals however, many do not participate or do not understand they can participate, advertise young people’s groups, more social events for teens, community activities for all neighbors/citizens; not just Catholic Response: We have passed on the information to the Teen Group that they want to do more off campus activities. The Teen leader has been informed to make sure everyone knows to invite anyone they may wish to have show up. We have added another assistant leader to the Teen Group for assistance. More and more teens are getting involved with around 50 showing up for the Summer VBS program for Teens. We stress that all ministries are open to those who have received Confirmation, but we think that school activities and family schedules are getting in the way of commitment. However, we do have more participating. We are having great trouble in getting a Young Adult group going and appreciate any input.
Are we effectively engaging them in the life and teachings of the Church?
Young adult groups needed, cross communication utilizing tangible (real) mail. pen pal, (i.e., Fraternus to blue nights), more youth activities: dances, trips for teens/youth, the youth groups would like more off-campus activities such as rock climbing, hiking, etc…, some Faith Formation programs are not meeting the needs of our older students in terms of teaching styles/programs.
Response: We are moving our Little Flowers group to Monday in order to have the older ladies mentor the younger girls. As well, we are moving our Blue Knights to Tuesday to coincide with Fraternus. In Faith Formation, we are watching teaching styles and reassigning teachers to appropriate class levels.
How are we reaching those who might be at the periphery of the community (i.e. marginalized, disabled, disadvantaged, and neglected)? How are we providing a space that is inclusive to those of different cultures, races, socio-economic status? In what ways can we connect with them more effectively?
Follow up is needed for ill, disabled. Provide to sleep for homeless in winter, group to work with homeless agencies, lack of communication about what our church offers through all the ministries. the outreach is to elderly, homebound, at risk, poor, hungry through the ministries. Information on local Catholic Charities office, prepare a list of resources in the diocese for help, contact local police for resources, rides to church for those who need travel assistance, prison ministry, LGBTQ ministry, easier accessibility for annulments for those married out of the Church.
Response: There is not a huge homeless situation in Thompson’s Station/Spring Hill, however, the Well does offer help in this area. For disabled, all of our building is handicapped accessible. We try to offer rides to Mass through our Knights of Columbus but we only know of a few cases. The more we know, the more we can help. Our Homebound Communion is strongly staffed. Those who take communion to the homebound relay necessity for anointing and confession to the priest. For the hungry, we strongly support the Well. We collect food weekly and have strong food drives throughout the year. We also contribute financial support to the Well quarterly so that they may buy in bulk. We also provide quarterly financial assistance to “Shower Up”, an agency started by a parishioner taking mobile showers to the homeless in Nashville. Catholic Charities has located an office near us in Columbia. Resources are in pamphlet form in the narthex and via internet/phone. We are beginning a prison outreach for the Maury County jail to provide access to literature and prayer, additionally sacramental support. It is up to the Universal Church to streamline the annulment process, but Nativity is ready to help anyone through this process. At this point, we provide LGBT communication with Courage, centered in Nashville with a priest spiritual director.
Within the parish what initiatives or outreach programs exist to foster the faith among Catholics (both those who are actively and passively practicing their faith)?
Southern springs group gets together (about 50 people) for a pot luck and collects for the Well, prepares food for the hospital staff and helps the individual members of that specific community, Nativity provides bible studies, social ministries such as WGON and Men’s group, K of C, etc…, RCIA, out of sequence sacrament classes for youth, small groups, personal evangelization among neighbors, friends and family. Response: In addition to the above mentioned, we run education on Flocknotes, Engaged (a specific communication from the pastor via Flocknotes), Instagram and Facebook. We have an outdoor sign to advertise programs to the public and large group activities for the community (Fish Fry and yearly Picnic). Our Rosary Walk is open to the community for meditation as well as our church which automatically opens at 6:00 A.M. and closes at 9:00 daily.
How are we evangelizing those with no religious affiliation?
Community activities advertised for the pubic (fish fry, community picnic), church is open throughout the day for anyone to pray, welcoming attitude of leaders and parishioners, Shadow day for people who have not been to church in a while or for those of other faiths who the youth may invite. Response: We need a lot of ideas on this. Any contributions would be greatly appreciated.
What other programs might be helpful in this endeavor?
Cursillo, prayer groups, prison outreach, Catholicism courses (rudimentary for beginners), history of the Church courses, promote youth camps in area for Catholics, newly baptized: send a card annually, or other cards through the year. Big Sister/Big Brother with preschoolers (mentors), music ministry concerts for the public. Response: Cursillo has been pushed, but not very successful in its outreach. We are beginning a prison outreach ministry and will begin “catch-up” classes for Catholics to refresh or relearn the faith. We do promote Inspire summer camp for Fidelis, Ranch for Fraternus, and diocesan programs for youth in the Summer such as Youth Leadership Workshop and Search. The diocesan area, Camp Marymount is open for enrollment during the summer. We will begin to include our newly baptized in the bulletin, weddings, etc… We are doing more baptisms during Mass which is a great help. We are also aligning our Fidelis with our young girls in Little Flowers/ Fraternus with Blue Knights. We have had one very successful Music Ministry concert open to the public.
Does our parish engage in dialogue with non-Catholic Christians and/or those of other faith traditions in order to promote the common good?
There is very little dialogue among our community and other faiths. Response: Fish Fry, church picnic and other large events do reach out to the community. However, our best efforts have been the invitation of the community to our Fish Fry events during Lent. We moved our summer children’s education from Totus Tuus to Vacation Bible School. As we are trying to evangelize, putting up a sign in Latin (Totus Tuus) was not communicating to non-Catholics. Our VBS programs have been very successful and we have attracted more non-Catholic youth from the community to participate. Our Early Learning Center accepts non-Catholic children. Although the curriculum is Catholic based, we have non-Catholic students enrolled.
How can the parish improve interfaith and interreligious communication?
Interfaith service, invite other music groups of all religions, topics of discussion among all local faiths, hold interfaith council meetings, visit each other for similarities. Response: We do minister to police and fire departments by taking meals. We also have a group that prepares food occasionally to the workers of our Tri-Star emergency room. What particular issues pertaining to the Church and society should we direct our attention and efforts toward? There is a disparity of communication between faiths however, at weddings, funerals, and even weekend Masses, many non-Catholics are in attendance. We make it known that our building is open every day for prayer and invite everyone to visit. Many, if not most, of the area churches are locked through the week. We participate in pro-life activities and support our local pro-life clinics with quarterly financial support. The Knights of Columbus have procured sonogram machines at no cost to pro-life facilities. Our community has an open food area which anyone can utilize. We provide quarterly funds and have food drives throughout the year for contributions to the Well (area food ministry), We have a bereavement group for food and assistance at funerals, a counseling group for individuals and groups and provide quarterly financial support to “Shower UP” for homeless in Nashville and vicinity.
Are we actively engaged in social justice issues or is this an area that needs improvement in our parish?
Response: We are actively engaged in the social justice issues of hunger and abortion. We are also beginning to work into the prison/jail ministry of our area but we need to address other social issues more female positions in leadership and addiction.