Category Archives: Uncategorized

Registration Linked Fixed: Sycamore Leaders Training Day

Ooops… We have fixed the registration link! You should be able to register easily now using the link below.

We are delighted to announce that our first Leaders Training Day will take place on Sat 1 December at St Patrick’s Church, Soho Square, London. Full details below. We hope you will be able to join us. 

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO REGISTER VIA THE ONLINE REGISTRATION FORM

[If you are having problems with this Microsoft form (there have been some problems because some people are logged in with alternative Microsoft accounts) then please use this simple Doodle Form here and just leave your name and tick the date to say you are coming: https://doodle.com/poll/y4pw6hcwffk2m4zg ]

WHAT IS THE DAY ABOUT?
For those interested in learning more about the Sycamore programme, and for those who have already been using Sycamore in their parishes and communities. The purpose of the day is:
(1) to introduce Sycamore to those who are thinking about using it in their parish, school or chaplaincy
(2) to learn from the experience of those who have already been using Sycamore – to share good practice
(3) to introduce “Sycamore Version 2” – a completely new set of films and resources that is being produced this autumn and will be launched in the new year
(4) to run a focus group in order to learn what kind of training and resources we should provide in the future

VENUE
Basement Meeting Room, St Patrick’s Catholic Church, 21A Soho Square, London W1D 4NR, UK. Entrance is through the church lobby, via the staircase on the left, just before you enter the main church itself.

TIMETABLE
10.30am – arrivals and coffee
11am – introduction to the Sycamore programme as it stands; introduction to Sycamore Version 2 – why we have re-made the resources and what the new version will be like; Q&A
12noon – sharing good practice: input from the Sycamore team about how to run a successful Sycamore programme; and learning from current leaders about how they have done things; discussion
1pm – lunch – PLEASE BRING A PACKED LUNCH
1.45pm (for those who wish to stay after lunch): A focus group with discussion about how we can best market and promote Sycamore; what kind of resources leaders are looking for to help them run it successfully; how to build a support community for Sycamore leaders and local groups; etc
3pm – finish

DONATIONS
There is no charge for the day, but we will ask for donations to help us cover the costs of the event

REGISTRATION
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO REGISTER VIA THE ONLINE REGISTRATION FORM

TRAVEL
Nearest tube stations: Tottenham Court Road (2 mins); Leicester Square (5 mins).
Please check the Transport for London Status Page to check on public transport for the day:
https://tfl.gov.uk/tube-dlr-overground/status/

FURTHER INFORMATION
You will not receive a confirmation email when you submit the form; but we will email you a few days before the event with any updates

WHAT IS SYCAMORE?
Sycamore is a programme of evangelisation, catechesis, formation and culture. Using short, high-quality online videos, and a “meet-learn-discuss” methodology, it is designed for use with groups in parishes, schools, chaplaincies and beyond. Participants are invited to learn about the Christian faith, and to share their own ideas and questions, without fear of being judged.
Sycamore forms leaders in a culture of welcome and openness, as well as rooting them in a holistic vision of Catholic Christianity. It includes a set of supplementary resources for individual participants to explore outside the meetings. It also includes an online multi-media platform for Catholic teaching and evangelisation, with videos and resources available for wider use.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Updates via the Sycamore website: https://sycamore.fm/news/

 

Sycamore Leaders Training Day, Sat 1 Dec 2018 – ALL WELCOME

We are delighted to announce that our first Leaders Training Day will take place on Sat 1 December at St Patrick’s Church, Soho Square, London. Full details below. We hope you will be able to join us. 

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO REGISTER VIA THE ONLINE REGISTRATION FORM

[If you are having problems with this Microsoft form (there have been some problems because some people are logged in with alternative Microsoft accounts) then please use this simple Doodle Form here and just leave your name and tick the date to say you are coming: https://doodle.com/poll/y4pw6hcwffk2m4zg ]

WHAT IS THE DAY ABOUT?
For those interested in learning more about the Sycamore programme, and for those who have already been using Sycamore in their parishes and communities. The purpose of the day is:
(1) to introduce Sycamore to those who are thinking about using it in their parish, school or chaplaincy
(2) to learn from the experience of those who have already been using Sycamore – to share good practice
(3) to introduce “Sycamore Version 2” – a completely new set of films and resources that is being produced this autumn and will be launched in the new year
(4) to run a focus group in order to learn what kind of training and resources we should provide in the future

VENUE
Basement Meeting Room, St Patrick’s Catholic Church, 21A Soho Square, London W1D 4NR, UK. Entrance is through the church lobby, via the staircase on the left, just before you enter the main church itself.

TIMETABLE
10.30am – arrivals and coffee
11am – introduction to the Sycamore programme as it stands; introduction to Sycamore Version 2 – why we have re-made the resources and what the new version will be like; Q&A
12noon – sharing good practice: input from the Sycamore team about how to run a successful Sycamore programme; and learning from current leaders about how they have done things; discussion
1pm – lunch – PLEASE BRING A PACKED LUNCH
1.45pm (for those who wish to stay after lunch): A focus group with discussion about how we can best market and promote Sycamore; what kind of resources leaders are looking for to help them run it successfully; how to build a support community for Sycamore leaders and local groups; etc
3pm – finish

DONATIONS
There is no charge for the day, but we will ask for donations to help us cover the costs of the event

REGISTRATION
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO REGISTER VIA THE ONLINE REGISTRATION FORM

TRAVEL
Nearest tube stations: Tottenham Court Road (2 mins); Leicester Square (5 mins).
Please check the Transport for London Status Page to check on public transport for the day:
https://tfl.gov.uk/tube-dlr-overground/status/

FURTHER INFORMATION
You will not receive a confirmation email when you submit the form; but we will email you a few days before the event with any updates

WHAT IS SYCAMORE?
Sycamore is a programme of evangelisation, catechesis, formation and culture. Using short, high-quality online videos, and a “meet-learn-discuss” methodology, it is designed for use with groups in parishes, schools, chaplaincies and beyond. Participants are invited to learn about the Christian faith, and to share their own ideas and questions, without fear of being judged.
Sycamore forms leaders in a culture of welcome and openness, as well as rooting them in a holistic vision of Catholic Christianity. It includes a set of supplementary resources for individual participants to explore outside the meetings. It also includes an online multi-media platform for Catholic teaching and evangelisation, with videos and resources available for wider use.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Updates via the Sycamore website: https://sycamore.fm/news/

Sycamore Redevelopment Plans

Because of all the positive feedback and encouragement we have received over the last few months, things are finally moving forward with the Sycamore redevelopment plans. There is a brief summary below, and more details will be shared over the next few weeks… Thank you to everyone who has encouraged us to move forward with the project. Please keep this project in your prayers!

The Sycamore programme is currently being redeveloped and will – if all goes well – be relaunched in January 2019. Plans include: rewriting and refilming the first ten films as “Sycamore Series 1” (available from Dec 2018 for use in January 2019); developing a follow-on programme of ten films as “Sycamore Series 2” which will take participants deeper into the Christian faith (available in the summer of 2019); sharing short sections of the films as stand-alone YouTube videos to create an online library of apologetic and catechetical materials; developing materials to train Sycamore leaders; co-publishing resources and follow-on materials for participants and the wider public.

Visiting Zacchaeus’s Sycamore tree in Jericho!

sytree

I’m just back from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and we stopped to see the Sycamore tree in Jericho that (apparently, perhaps, maybe, possibly, or possibly not…) Zacchaeus climbed up to get a good view of Jesus in Luke 19. This is the inspiration for our Sycamore programme! I prayed for all those involved in Sycamore throughout the world, and especially for those who have come as guests to some of the sessions.

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Luke 19: Jesus and Zacchaeus

“He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax-collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, ‘He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.’ Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.’”

Sycamore in Burnage

mk[Fr Stephen Wang writes] It was great to meet Mgr Michael Kujacz last month. I bumped into him at the sad-but-joyful celebration of the funeral of Sr Amadeus Bulger CJ in York. I knew Mgr Michael when he was working at the seminary in Valladolid and hadn’t seen him for years. It was very encouraging to know that they have been using Sycamore at St Bernard’s parish in Burnage, Manchester, and that parishioners and guests have been enjoying the programme.

Sycamore Autumn Programmes

cake

It’s good to hear about Sycamore starting up in different parishes such as Cannock and Hoddesdon this autumn. At Newman House Student Chaplaincy we are training a new group of Sycamore leaders to begin the programme later in the month.

For us, this is just one part of our outreach and evangelisation project for the new academic year, which includes street leafleting, visiting student halls of residence, and opening the doors of the chaplaincy and offering free coffee and cake (see the photo above and the welcome banner).

Of the many projects, the free cake seems to be working the best…

Sycamore in the university chaplaincies

syyy

It was very good to be at the annual conference for Catholic University Chaplains last week in Leeds [writes Fr Stephen Wang]. Last year I introduced the Sycamore programme to about 50 chaplains. This year we had a feedback session with a dozen chaplains who have been using it on their campuses during this academic year.

We have been delighted to see how many chaplaincies have wanted to experiment with the programme as part of their evangelisation and outreach ministry. For most of them, it had been a genuine way of welcoming non-Christians and building friendship with those who did not know their chaplaincies, rather than just an ongoing formation programme for committed Catholics. It’s great if it is helping committed Catholics to deepen their faith, but it is even better if it is helping those with little or no faith to begin to glimpse the beauty of the Christian faith – perhaps for the first time.

Now it’s not a competition, but without a doubt the “award” for the greatest number of participants goes to the Newcastle group, organised by their chaplains Mia Fox and Fr Dominic White, which had 47 participants at their session on “Love”!!

I asked the group for their constructive feedback, especially useful if we are thinking about re-filming a Sycamore Version 2. I’ve copied below the comments, exactly as they were spoken, and arranged into two piles. If you have your own feedback, please do post it as a comment on this separate page here.

FEEDBACK FROM UNIVERSITY CHAPLAINS at the Leeds Conference, June 2016, from those who been using Sycamore over last academic year.

POSITIVE: Responses from the group about what is working well and what should not be changed:

  • Production quality gives confidence; well produced
  • Content good
  • Discussion questions working
  • Structure – you know what to expect, get into rhythm
  • Availability – clear website, all open source and available
  • Catholics can invite non-Christians, and they keep coming back
  • Community building because of discussions
  • Promoted faith sharing
  • Sometimes their group discussed the questions before the vox pops gave their answers
  • Generated conversations between Catholics and Muslims present
  • Students liked hearing other young people on vox pops of similar ages
  • Questions appearing on the screen
  • Subtitles helpful
  • Like the progression from general themes to deeper Christian themes
  • Bonding in the group because of questions and sharing
  • Allowing students to ask questions, feeling free to discuss
  • Making students responsible for running the sessions, this creates formation opportunities, growing in responsibility
  • Logo beautiful
  • Website helpful
  • Training materials on website helpful
  • The way the vox pops address the same questions as the group
  • Having the prayer team (and extending the prayer team to the wider parish); this empowered the prayer team
  • Most people have no place in their lives where they can ask questions, so it works to keep the vox pops as icebreakers for each discussion
  • Meal very important

SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT from the group:

  • Production quality on the audio
  • More variety of answers in the vox pops; more variety of interviewee
  • Ecumenical/interfaith element
  • More illustrative in parts; needs images, pictures, cutaways, photos etc so less focus on talking heads
  • How to add in the experience of Catholicism as a lived reality
  • More on sacraments
  • How to adapt this for RCIA – can you add some sessions to make it a fuller RCIA programme?
  • Not sure if it is best to have the vox pops before the discussion of each question; danger that it biases the group to follow the vox pop responses – BUT the vox pops can help break the ice and get the conversation started…
  • Presenter to summarise the session at the end, bring threads together
  • Variety of locations
  • Link the discussion questions more to the input before; sometimes the questions feel disconnected from the input
  • The format of the final question is strange because it does not follow the pattern (there are no vox pops and the film just ends); is it better to keep the same format, and also to have a short piece from the presenter at the very end to wind things up and make it feel less abrupt?
  • Add someone else to co-present with Fr Stephen as well, but keep the consistency of Fr Stephen as an anchor which allows audience to “get to know” and “build up trust” with him over time
  • Yes keep the questions general, but can some of them be more focussed and “catechetical”?
  • Deeper questions…

Sycamore in Portsmouth Diocese

dom

It was great to be in Basingstoke yesterday to introduce the Sycamore programme to some of the RCIA catechists from the Diocese of Portsmouth. The Diocese has been promoting the programme from the very beginning, and encouraging parishes to use it either as an evangelisation tool and enquiry course, or as the introductory part of an RCIA course. The participants were full of enthusiasm for the Gospel and how they can share it with others. See the images from the Dominican sisters above.

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.