THE 1,000 strong Essex parish of Our lady of Good Counsel, Wickford, last Sunday declared its intention to use their "Godgiven talents" in both a practical and prayerful way to reach out to the local community, its poor, marginalised and lonely.
Taking as their theme "Here I am Lord", the local parish council and its chairman, Chris Tisi, asked parishioners to look at the day of renewal "as a private 'mock exam' as we all need to take at school, in preparation for the real thing which came later. Imagine that this is your opportunity in the privacy of your own mind, to face the time when you must say 'Here I am Lord' and have to explain whether you used or buried your God-given talents".
A series of speakers looked at different ways to be a "seven day a week Catholic". Fr Stephen McBrearty, the Northern Ireland correspondent of the Catholic Herald, travelled to Wickford to address the day of renewal on carrying the example of Jesus and his 12 apostles of very differing temperaments into our everyday actions — in sparing time to help or simply to talk to the sick, the housebound, those society ignores.
Sir Roy Shaw, formerly general secretary of the Arts Council, developed the theme of individual Christian commitment and action, and suggested that by joining organisations like Child Poverty Action, the Catholic Housing Aid Society or Pax Christi, Catholics could consider and have a more active and powerful role in the matters that only governments can change.