Sycamore in Oxford

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Sr Carolyn Morrison writes about how the Sycamore programme has been used in Oxford as part of their Year of Mercy:

“The parish of St Anthony of Padua, Oxford: Explaining the Catholic faith through the media of film and small informal group discussions using the Sycamore Programme”   

After attending the National #Proclaim15 conference that was held in Birmingham last July I was greatly inspired to do something in the way of proclaiming the Word of God for the Year of Mercy in my parish. So I invited one of the Parish Counsellors to the convent and we decided to ask some people from our parish to a few small group sessions using the #Proclaim15 resources. On the last session I showed a clip from one of the Sycamore films as a taster and suggested that it might be something we could do at St Anthony’s. The suggestion was greatly welcomed and as a result we are now currently running three Sycamore Programmes all at the same time.

They take place in three very different settings and with three very different audiences:

The first one takes place in the Parish Hall of St Anthony’s of Padua on a Thursday evening. The attendance so far has been between 30 – 38 parishioners. The feedback from them has been very positive and quite amazing. One parishioner said that ‘It is really community building: I have spoken to people that I have known for years for the first time’. She went on to say that she had seen them at Mass lots of times but never got beyond giving a smile and saying hello. Another parishioner brought along his wife who has not been to Mass for 12 years. She is now attending Mass with him. He is delighted!

The second is held at the Catholic school of St Gregory the Great with two classes of Sixth Formers. It is run as an after school activity as a form of spiritual preparation to a mixed-faith group of teenagers going to Taize in May. The group consists of Catholics, two Muslims, an atheist, plus several non-Catholics. They particularly like the ‘Vox Pop’ interview parts. They also say that it’s good for their ethics classes as they have learnt a few facts that they can argue with.

The third one is run by the women’s prayer group and takes place in the comfort of one of their homes. They say it is very relaxed and the questions give them a sense of direction and keep them focused.

 

As one of diocesan delegates for Birmingham #Proclaim15 team I have been invited to do a workshop on how to run a ‘Sycamore Programme in Your Parish’ at the Mini Proclaim Day for the Southern Deaneries in Oxford which will take place in the John Paul II Centre, Immaculate Conception Church, Bicester on the 30th April 2016.

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