by Jo McGirr - Christchurch West Parish
It is no surprise that the 2022 Christchurch West Parish Survey found that “people who are involved in parish activities feel more connected to other parishioners.” For those of us who have long been active in volunteer roles within our parishes, it is more a case of how do we engage more people to get involved and spread the workload?
You might say that at Christchurch West, a lot of muck is spread! Sometimes we can’t see the wood for the trees! We fight dirty and deal with the thorny issues! We are the Christchurch West gardening group, who have been meeting every second and fourth Fridays of the month, 9.30am12.30pm, to put in the hard mahi! As the notice in our newsletter says, “Give us your labour; enjoy a laugh and homemade baking at break time.” We check in with each other, swap gardening and baking tips, and even manage to do some gardening and fill the trailer.
A gardening group ticks a lot of boxes, the most obvious being the maintenance and beautification of our church gardens. Do not forget the connections we make as we meet regularly, and the fact that not all people find it easy or comfortable to socialise and meet new people. Yet, if you have people working together, there is a focus, and conversation becomes that much easier.
Our parish is home to a lot of green fingered gardeners, and 2023 marks the tenth year of our annual Parish Plant Sale. From small beginnings, this yearly event has grown to be the biggest fundraiser for our parish, and owes its success to our 30 or more volunteers, some who’ve been involved for ten years. All proceeds go to maintaining our church grounds, from fixing potholes to improving the soil and putting in new plantings. The 2023 Christchurch West Plant Sale, at Our Lady of Victories on Saturday 21 October, from 9.30am-12.30pm, is not to be missed. We have also started running seed growing workshops in our parish, to teach people how to grow their own food, and maybe grow a few extra plants for the plant sale?
We are a large parish. In order to build community, we must never underestimate the power of our small groups. For it is the Holy Spirit working within ordinary people, who empowers us to do extraordinary things.