Parish Planning

St Peters Catholic Church, Hove:

Post COVID-19 Recovery Plan

The thoughts of a distant deacon!

“…the Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel.” (Gaudium et Spes: 4)

  1. Supposition:
  2. The Catholic Parish of St Peter’s, Hove has been ‘shifted’, by the COVID-19 Pandemic (CV19), into a status of transitional change. Transitional change can be described as “replacing ‘what is or was’ with something completely new. This will require designing and implementing a ‘new state.’ We must simultaneously dismantle and emotionally let go of the old way of operating while the new state is being put into place“.

  3. Analysis – identifying what has changed
    The lockdown, imposed as a result of CV19, provides an opportune moment to analyse what impact CV19 has had on the parish; An opportunity to review what changes are for the better and what changes are for the worse, negatively impacting the Body of Christ in this place.

    By way of example, many parishes have reported:

    • A loss of younger parishioners and families
    • People resigning from rotas and long held positions in the parish
    • Significant reduction in regular financial giving both through the plate and online
    • A loss of attendance at Liturgy as they ‘surf’ the internet each week for Holy Mass being live streamed throughout the world
    • Increase in people being isolated and lonely
    • Bereavement, the death of loved ones without the normal ability to gather and grieve
    • A.N. Others

    We need to understand what has changed at St Peter’s. We need to identify and ‘name’ the challenges that we face. This is the first task: “We must simultaneously dismantle and emotionally let go of the old way of operating…”.

  4. Plan
    We can use lockdown to plan, as best we can, for “the new state being put into place”. This is a very real challenge, trying to understand the inevitable change for the parish and the Church as a whole as a result of CV19.

    We can use this time positively and productively:

    • to change how things have always been done
    • to prepare for the future ‘to get our house in order’


    • Times of Holy Mass on Sundays and throughout the week, dovetailing with neighbouring parishes, ensuring Liturgy is scheduled at times for both the working and retired parishioner
    • Membership and shape of the committee structures, of course with due regard for Canon Law. The parish will need proactive ‘action’ groups that are agile and can pivot to respond to need. They need to be fit for purpose to ensure that we reach out to people of the parish through an age appropriate medium and voice
    • Consider ‘collaborative’ leadership models to provide improved guidance and advice to the parish priest
    • Explore ways for co-operation with other local parishes in the delivery of catechetical programmes
    • Etc.


    • Review the parish data base. Is it up to date? Does it include mobile numbers, emails as well as home addresses? Do we have the necessary GDPR consents in place for a full spectrum of communication channels?
    • Does the parish have a parish WhatsApp group to facilitate fast and effective internal communication? Changes to plans, prayers at the start and end of each day, response to emergency, calls to prayer.
    • Communication is key to transitional change. What digital platforms and media are we using e.g. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Tiktok etc. Do we have the skills in the parish to produce simple videos and use of other digital media? We need to create a simple parish communication and marketing plan
    • Refurbishment of the hall is a great example of preparation for the future. To create a community hub, it will be necessary to understand what the ‘community’ needs. This could be facilitated through a ‘needs analysis’ or alternatively a ‘gap analysis’ of community provision
    • Check safeguarding and DBS systems are up-to-date and fit for purpose
    • Get Safety toolbox up-to-date and compliant
    • Appointment of key people into key leadership positions
    • Check financial sustainability: budgets, forward planning
    • Etc.
  5. Recovery – reaching out to those who have temporarily stopped attending Mass.
    We are all missing a sense of physical connection and community, and we are ideally positioned to respond to this need, this was evident in the high numbers attending the carol concert. We need to consider ways in which we can encourage and welcome people back to St Peter’s as lockdown restrictions are eased in the first instance and removed all together.

    The parish could consider a 12-month programme of events and initiatives to encourage people back. This could include:.

    • A dynamic teaching programme (physical and virtual) revolving around:
      • The great Jesus story: starting from scratch, His birth, life, passion, death and resurrection. The Kerygma.
      • Catholic Social Teaching (CST). What better time is there, than a community recovering from the restrictions of CV19, for the Church to focus on the ethical and moral frame for society that is CST. Dignity, Community, Options for the Poor, Subsidiarity etc. It would be exciting to see how CST could manifest itself practically in the parish. Community hub – options for the poor, Subsidiarity – collaborative leadership etc
    • Social events designed to bring people back together: shared meals, music evenings, quizzes, show and tell etc.
    • Establish a ‘call and connect’ team to reach out to people who are missing
    • Introduce new communication: parish news, vlogs, reviews, etc.
    • Etc.
  6. (Note: all events linked to Liturgy; Mass, Benediction, Adoration, the Divine Office… sung! etc)

  7. Evangelisation – reaching out to the people of the parish
  8. With all of the activities established above, we can reach out to the wider community of people that may have drifted from the Church many years ago, or who may be longing, through their innate dignity, to hear the great Jesus story for the first time.

    Use of digital media advertising will be critical at this stage. The biggest challenge being to get the content, voice and messaging right. Recruitment of an Evangelisation Action Team will be vital. A cross section of people invited from the parish demographic.

  9. Prayer
  10. For all of the above to work, the people of St Peter’s will need to be a community grounded in prayer: personal, the Divine Office, the Holy Mass. How? This could be explored as part of section 3.

“All of us, as members of the people of God – bishops, priests, deacons, laity, men and women religious – are making our pilgrim way to the heavenly homeland where the Virgin Mary has preceded us, associated as she was in a unique and perfect way to the mystery of Christ and the Church.” (Pope Benedict XVI’s Homily, Beatification of Blessed John Paul)

2021.01.31 – SS/ALS