Steward of the Gospel


The  Parish Role in Evangelisation


This short overview aims to sketch some of the ways that the Cathedral parish aims to develop evangelizing attitudes and practice pursuant to the Vision document published by the Diocese in Advent 2018.


The Cathedral parish is grateful that Bishop Alan recognized the Cathedral as having a special character and role, both as the second largest parish in the diocese and as the Mother Church of the diocese. This means that while we are not directly involved in the current discussions around proposed linking strategies, we are continually considering ways to help people deepen their relationship with the Risen Christ and welcome those who are at the peripheries of the Church or outside it into the transforming life of grace.    


Here are some of the principal ways that will help people encounter the Risen Christ and His Church:


We believe that primary way that this is achieved is through the liturgy, especially the celebration of Sunday Mass. This is the sacred moment par excellence where disciples are forged. There is no substitute for this transforming experience of grace. In the proclamation of the living word and in the sacrament of the Cross, the Church’s greatest prayer, all evangelization finds its meaning and purpose. What draws people to the Son of the Living God? The liturgy and the beauty of the crucified and risen Christ at its sacred heart.


When the liturgy is celebrated with reverence, joy and a true “noble simplicity”, then, Christ is encountered in His Church and seen with a renewed clarity. All involved in the liturgy at the Cathedral are striving for excellence, not  as an exercise in liturgical self-indulgence but in order to give glory to God and to allow others to be touched in some way by the divine glory that gives breath and life to our worship. All true and lasting evangelization is an expression of doxology. In a disenchanted secular age, our principal aim is to help people sense something of the supreme attractiveness of Christ. We believe that this is best achieved through the “sacred action” of the liturgy. From the moment people encounter this building, from the welcome at the Cathedral doors, from the dignity with which every word, note, symbol and silence is held, we hope to stir within them some movement of awe, however inchoate it may be, and thus open them to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.


We also recognize that any evangelization is, in the first place, the Triune God’s initiative and the importance of discerning His will for His Church and its mission. Therefore, we want to be a community of prayer and, in the past year, we have introduced a weekly Holy Hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament in the Cathedral to focus our attention on the one thing necessary.


Unlike a number of Catholic cathedrals that have a somewhat remote relationship with a parish community or the diocese, this is not the case with Brentwood Cathedral. Not only does it serve a large parish community but welcomes groups and individuals from across the diocese. Consider a snap shot of the formal bookings for diocesan events and use of the Cathedral by groups, organizations for the period January to July 2019:


Organisation and Event


Diocese BCYS – Youth Mass

Once Monthly

Music Department – Lunchtime Recitals

11 occasions (therefore averaging twice monthly)

BUCHS School – Rehearsal


BUCHS – Feast of St Angela Mass


St Joseph’s Primary – School Tour


Music Department – Music Recording

4 occasions

Diocese – Mass for the Religious


North Kent College – art student visit


Diocese – Chapter of Canons Mass


Diocese Catholic Fellowship Annual Mass


Diocese – Rite of Election


Brentwood School – Symphonic/Choral Concert


BUCHS – Holy Week Services

2 occasions

Music Department – Choir Rehearsal


Music Department – Concert Rehearsal


Brentwood Choral Society – Lenten Concert


Diocese – Rehearsal for Chrism Mass


Diocese – Chrism Mass


BUCHS – Foundation Day Mass


BUCHS Rehearsal


BUCHS – Senior Prize-giving evening


Diocese – Rite of Acceptance


Diocese – Citizenship Awards


Music Department – Choir Rehearsal


Diocese – Ordinariate Mass


BCCS – “The Priests” Concert


BUCHS Rehearsal


BUCHS – Junior Prize-giving evening


Diocese – Mass for Marriage and Family Life


Music Department – Recital Session


BUCHS – End of Year Service


Diocese BCYS – Lourdes Return Mass



There exist few parishes in our diocese that enjoy the same breadth and diversity of engagement. But with this comes the responsibility and challenge of making the Cathedral parish a place of profound encounter with the crucified and risen Christ. At the same time, the community is keenly aware of the need for evangelization. We recognize that every baptism, funeral, wedding, Confirmation and First Holy Communion is a graced-moment to make the Risen Christ real to those attending who are largely “unchurched”. We are presented with an opportunity to disrupt secular assumptions about the Church with the good news of God’s grace. Above all else, it will be our pastoral attitude and the prayerfulness of our celebration of a sacrament that people will remember. With hundreds of such people entering the precincts of grace, how do we meet them, speak to them and help them to sense God’s love for them? Answering those crucial questions is the main business of the Cathedral and of every member of our parish community.


At the same time our love of Christ must take flesh in the mercy and care shown to the weakest, poorest and humiliated. Only when this happens, do we become true disciples and cooperate in the building of the Reign of God. Having reflected on this a community we have created a new Love in Action group which meets once a month and is committed to making the social teaching of the Church real to others in practical ways that engages the . Two concrete projects will be developed in the coming twelve months:


One is concerned with our common home, the planet, inspired, in large part, by Laudato Si. This has led to the creation of a sub-group called the Green Guardians. New bike racks have been installed at the Cathedral and by early next year all our lighting will use power saving LED bulbs. But their first main event is called “BE INSPIRED” and will take place on Thursday 10th October at 7.30 p.m. in the parish hall. There will be a panel of expert speakers including representatives from the Bishops’ Conference and CAFOD as well as the Leader of Brentwood Borough Council to give short presentations on the pressing environmental issues we are facing and answer some of our concerns. The group is also inviting our local schools to tell us about the initiatives our young people are involved in locally and globally. The “BE INSPIRED” event will be open to people across the diocese.   


The second project is an attempt to find practical responses to the loneliness that so many people feel in a society where so many lives, young and old, have become atomized and people no longer experience forms of communion that make for human flourishing and encounter with God. Starting on Friday 4th October, and on the first Friday of each month the ‘Love in Action’ group will open the doors of the parish hall between 1.00 and 3.00 p.m. for drinks and biscuits/cakes. All people, whatever their stage in life, from babies with parents/carers upwards, parishioner or not, will be invited in.  This will be an opportunity for people to relax, chat and meet others from our parish family and beyond.    

One of the keys to evangelization is people feeling a sense of belonging and fellowship. We believe that small “cell” groups best facilitate these human and spiritual needs, especially in a very large parish. During this past year, we have created two new initiatives:


a) For married couples. This group of seven couples at different stages in their married lives meet once a fortnight to reflect on the Scriptures for the following Sunday, to pray and share a social time together. We are now planning to invite couples to join a second group. Here are some testimonies from the couples:

“It’s lovely to belong to a group as a couple and share in the experiences, prayer life and fellowship of other couples. We have learnt so much and feel part of this little community, the members of which we have got to know and grown to love. A great initiative and it’s fun too!”
“We look forward so much to our meetings and fellowship. Such a joy to pray together and share our thoughts and feelings. The group has truly enhanced our Christian journey.” 


b) For “millennials”. The Thinking Faith group of 18-35 year olds meet once a fortnight to consider the sacred Scriptures through a form of lectio divina. This often acts as a springboard to deeper questions about living an adult faith in a secular age and the meaning of that Faith. This meeting provides an opportunity for Catholics of a similar age to meet, pray and find mutual support.


For 2020, we are considering the possibility of piloting a new evangelizing resource, Sycamore, created by Fr Stephen Wang, chaplain at the University of London. This resource has the advantage of being rooted in a Catholic understanding of faith and allowing people to engage with this in a relaxed manner. We are also impressed by Sycamore’s high quality production values and that it can be used in a variety of different contexts. See


“The God Who Speaks” initiative by the Bishops’ Conference begins in October and as part of this year the Cathedral community will put on a serious of Lenten lectures reflecting on the Scriptures and with an ecumenical dimension. These will be given by eminent scripture scholars including Fr Richard Ounsworth OP and Professor John Barton, author of the acclaimed A History of the Bible. We see the Cathedral as assisting people to deepen and mature their understanding of God, revealed in Jesus Christ.


Such lectures and interviews have attracted large numbers of people in the past from the Cathedral and beyond. We hope that will be the case and that parishes and the diocese will actively help us promote this initiative across the Diocese.


We remain committed to using social media in all its various forms to communicate the life of the Cathedral parish community to as many people as possible. We recognize this as a significant tool in any missionary work.


In its interlinked roles as Cathedral and parish, we are committed to being a channel of God’s grace for the whole of the Diocese and for all men and women who are seeking truth and beauty. Our efforts to find creative, mature and orthodox ways for people to encounter Christ as their Saviour and Lord is at the heart of our continuing mission.


Fr Martin Boland   Dean of the Cathedral        Chris Chandler Steward of the Gospel

August 2019

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