Whenever a Parish is in decline, the first thing you will notice is an absence of young people attending services. This is no less true of our Parish where, at best there is a sparse sprinkling of under 15’s at any one mass. After that, any signs of young people are through grand parents bringing their infants to mass. To be fair, there is also a dearth of young parents coming to mass, resulting in a lost generation.
How we address this decline is easier said than done. Certainly the Parish Council are looking at how we can tackle this issue, for whilst this is an issue for all churches, it would appear to be a more pressing issue here at St Stephen’s. One way would be to work with the school children and their parents through the sacraments of First Holy Communion and Reconciliation. It is evident during the preparation for these sacraments that whilst the children do seem keen to know more and want to come to Church, getting them here is another matter. So too is the catechesis from within the Parish. Where, in the past there have been sufficient clergy to go into the School on a regular basis to rally both the children and parents, this now is becoming more of an issue in handing this role onto the laity.
However, small successes are on the horizon. A group of half a dozen young people, ranging from eleven to seventeen from the Longford area have requested use of the Social club. They work with Anna Buckland and Jeanette Brookes the Detached Youth Workers from Warrington Borough Council who have, until now been meeting them at LA Bowl. The young people themselves approached us seeking a better place to meet and now use the Club Lounge on the 1st and 3rd Monday’s of the month. They hope to complete a Youth Achievement Award and we are happy to support them in this.
Some of the young people are Catholic, some not. The intention is not to drag them into mass, though they are welcome and have in recent months been to mass. We hope that they can make good use of the Club and use it to build stronger relationships and friendships.
The Parish has two primary schools. Further information can be obtained by visiting the schools themselves and obtaining a Prospectus, or by simply asking for a look around, which both schools are more than happy to facilitate. Alternatively you can follow the links below to both schools’ e-mail and websites:
St Stephen’s Catholic Primary
St Bridget’s Catholic Primary