The mission of the parish: to go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Sharing in the Liturgy
Parishioners act as Eucharistic Ministers, Readers and Altar Servers. The number of commissioned Eucharistic Ministers, some of whom take the Eucharist to the sick and the house bound, has increased considerably over the last few years following the extension of Communion under both kinds.
Readers are mainly adult: there was a first commissioning of Readers in the parish at Pentecost 2003.
Boys and girls are trained as Altar Servers after their first communion.
A Children’s Liturgy at the 10.00am Sunday Masses is a true, simplified version of the Liturgy of the Word then proceeding in church.
Music for the Liturgy is led by an all age choir, complemented from time to time by a folk group. The choir master has composed several regularly used settings, for choir and congregation, of the Ordinary of the Mass, psalms and hymns, together with similar pieces for special feasts. There is a mustic Group of all abilities is made up mainly of adults although there are some teenagers. It leads at 2nd and 4th Sunday Masses as well as at Christmas Day and Easter Day Masses.
Supporting the Liturgy
Church Wardens: cover all the weekend and special feast day Masses. Their duties include car parking, organising offertory collections, asking families to present the offertory, etc.
Church Welcomers: a group of parishioners in 1990 decided to try and help the parish become more welcoming. They formed a team of Welcomers, to greet the congregation, hand out hymn books and bulletins and be available to provide information for newcomers. Their success continues.
Church Flowers: a group of 6 ladies work to maintain fresh flower arrangements, especially for major feasts and events.
After Church Refreshments: serving refreshments after the 10.00 am Sunday Mass was begun in 1992 by the CWL. The aim is to provide to parishioners with the opportunity to socialise with an additional means of welcome. This has been greatly facilitated by the extension to the church
Piety Shop: operated after each of the three weekend Masses. Items for sale are adapted to the seasons and events of the year and can be specially ordered.
Rosary: This group began as a prayer group over 25 years ago. Numbers have fluctuated between 6 and 10. During the first Gulf War, it was decided to say the rosary and other prayers in Church for justice and peace in the world, and for vocations. These continue after Mass on Tuesday evenings.
Christian Meditation Group: This is a day-time ecumenical group. The format is derived from the teaching of John Main OSB
At other times during the year there are various devotions and opportunities to join in ecumenical prayer in the parish, in the different churches in Witney and in the deanery.
The Liturgy Committee
This committee of representatives from the groups at the service of the Liturgy was formed in June 2002. The committees aim is to co-ordinate liturgical activity in the parish and to enable full participation for everyone. It meets three times a year to review what has been happening and prepare for the coming seasons. The group also promotes the diocesan and deanery initiatives for musicians and other ministers.
Catechesis and Spirituality
Sacramental Preparation: the parish draws on the services of the parish priest and catechetical teams in nurturing the religious understanding of those coming forward for the sacraments. It is believed that by promoting an atmosphere of openness and friendship participants absorb an enduring sense of encouragement in their faith and sense of belonging in the parish.
Baptism is introduced to a group of parents through a series of two evenings held in the presbytery by Jo Brown. Parents learn about baptism by means of a video produced by the diocese and are also able to share the difficulties and joys of bringing up children as Catholics with more experienced parents.
Reconciliation, First Communion and Confirmation: these three sacraments are parish based. For Reconciliation and Communion, children attending non-Catholic schools attend workshops after the 10am Sunday Mass coordinated by Sister Pauline and supported by a group of parents. Those at Our Lady of Lourdes School receive training as part of the Sacramental syllabus and also attend workshops after a number of Sunday Masses during the year.
Come and See: An adult catechesis course Come and See based on the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) was launched in Autumn 2002. It is planned to extend this with a few preliminary sessions catering specifically for adult non-Catholics who have expressed an interest in a better understanding of the Catholic faith.
Youth Group: This a key target area for further development although young people are involved in the Ezra group, the Folk Group, Altar Servers and the Choir.
Churches Together in Witney: promotes a quarterly leaflet for member parishes intentions, and oversees the annual collection for Christian Aid and parishioners play an active role.
Cafod: the parish group raises funds for Cafod projects, and promotes understanding of the problems faced by peoples of the Developing World.
Association for Propagation of the Faith: the APF in Witney goes back to Fr Lopes' time.
Catholic Womens League: the Witney section was begun in 1988. Membership has since fluctuated and now stands at 15. The section tailors its activities of raising social and spiritual awareness and supporting charitable work according to the changing priorities of the parish.
Life and SPUC: Various members of the parish are actively involved in these national organisations.
SVP: The Conference began in Witney in November 1993, with the addition of the Youth Conference in 2001. There is currently a membership of 12 people plus Father Pat. Meetings are held weekly in the day chapel. The work consists of visiting the sick, elderly and housebound. Occasionally help is given to families in crisis and vagrants receive help in accordance with recommendations from local night shelters.