Bethan Townsend, Journey to 2030 Parish Representative for the Catholic Parish of Bognor Regis, shares some of their highlights of 2020. This is an abridged version, but you can download her full report in the link at the bottom of the page. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a parish representative, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Catholic Parish of Bognor Regis is a lively parish made up the churches of Our Lady of Sorrows, St Anthony’s and St Richard’s. Bethan, who has worked as Parish Representative since 2019, has been working with Gabrielle Thorpe (lead for the parish’s ECO group) on implementing some exciting initiatives.
The parish has been working hard to set up recycling mechanisms in partnership with different community schemes:
- Clothing: Parishioners have been bagging up old clothing to send to My Sisters’ House, a local organisation that accepts scrap material, buttons, and zips. Larger items of clothing are sent to local charity shops, and rags are bagged up and put in the local recycling bin.
- Church recycling bins: Over the last year, all churches are now making full use of the council recycling services. All waste is now disposed of correctly with the recycling being taken off the premises on a regular basis.
- ‘Unrecyclables’: The parish has set up stations to recycle all sorts! Milk bottle tops are sent to the Children’s Hospice (who use them to manufacture garden furniture), squidgy bottle tops are taken to Lush, tooth care items are sent via the Eco Hub to Colgate, Crisp packets are taken to the town hall and sent to Walkers.
Just before lockdown the parish was approached by someone who works at the council who was very keen on promoting care of the environment. A meeting was being planned, but has now been postponed due to the pandemic situation. This contact has made them realise how an interest in caring for the planet can lead to sharing of faith. Sharing news and ideas in the local Bognor Regis Post is something that has taken place before and is something they are keen to be doing again. It is a great way to evangelise and we can become a beacon of light in the town.
Alongside this, there was a very successful visit to the Recycling Centre at Ford and two more visits were in the pipeline but have been interrupted by COVID-19. This visit was very educational!
Bug Houses and Tree Planting
The parish has two bug houses on their church grounds, with a third bug house soon to be built at Our Lady of Sorrows.
The parish has set up a tree planting scheme, and are working with The Woodland Trust, EForest and Word Forest to kick off the project. If you have any experience launching something similar, do get in touch!
Parish and wider community
The Parish are holding regular meetings to discuss some ideas for reducing their carbon footprint and are exploring how to become a carbon neutral parish, including the possibility of putting solar panels on the Parish Centre. They also shared the film ‘Global Healing’ to prompt discussion, the film sparked great interest, and they are now thinking about how to share it more widely.
Also, the parish’s ECO group participated in a questionnaire from Eco Church and identified some projects to take forward.
The Parish is keen to hold Creation Celebration Masses at St Anthony’s and St Richard’s once COVID restrictions are lifted. These Masses will be wonderful opportunities to educate, to open up discussion and to involve different groups e.g. CAFOD, the Children’s Liturgy, L’Arche etc.
Lastly, despite all our restrictions this year, the Parish was assessed for the CAFOD Live Simply award. This took place via Zoom and with great cheer, the Parish passed! This is a great achievement to celebrate. Once we are able to gather again, we hope to have a Parish gathering to celebrate all the amazing effort that went into attaining this award. We now have the joyful opportunity of following every opportunity to live this out as we continue to strive to be an ecological community, and to be part of ‘The Journey to 2030’.
Download Bethan’s full report here.