The Diocese of Brentwood Vicariate for Adult Formation will launch a new website this coming Sunday. Fr Martin Boland heads the Vicariate, which came into being towards the end of 2020. He says: “The new website is called ‘Thresholds of Hope’ and is inspired by St Pope John Paul II’s appeal to humanity to cross the threshold of hope and come to know the living God.”
Fr Martin, who is also Dean of the busy Cathedral parish, has been working on the project for some time. “Lockdown gave me the opportunity to talk to priests and lay people about it, with a view to making the ideas and the language more accessible. ‘Vicariate for Adult Formation’ is a very clunky, ecclesiastical term and not one that is easy to understand.” He decided on ‘Thresholds of Hope’ because in his conversations, the idea of hope kept coming up. “This is a really important idea, particularly in the post-pandemic church. Christ is our hope and all meaningful formation should have Him at its centre. People need formation in all sorts of areas – as do priests. The more we deepen our understanding, our faith and our prayer life, the greater our relationship is with Christ. After all, the more time we spend with another person, the better we know them – and we can develop a deep and real friendship.”
This is a moment when we can reflect on these things with a fresh perspective, he adds. “I am not a doomsayer: I don’t think our parishes are going to be empty post-pandemic. But this is an opportunity to reach people – those who are committed or are enquiring – in an accessible and positive way. Hopefully, the website gives some feel of that.”
It features short video clips and is divided into three main areas: formation in knowledge; formation for relationship; and formation for communication. “The first is about deepening our understanding of Christ and our faith; the second is about developing our relationship with Christ through prayer; and the last is about the mission of the Church: if we are in a loving relationship, we want to share that with others – so we want to share our experience of Christ and our relationship with him.”
These areas developed through his conversations with lay people, priests and religious during lockdown. “In a sense the pandemic played into my hands. Parish life was less busy and that allowed me to have those conversations and develop the website from them.”
He hopes the site, the Facebook and Twitter pages will help and encourage lay people to come into their own in their parish communities in a new way. “Hopefully, the work we are doing and that going on around the country will allow us to flourish and grow,” he says.
The url for the new website will be: www.thresholdsofhope.co.uk
Fr Martin encourages people across the diocese to take a look at the website and share the Thresholds of Hope Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Thresholds-of-Hope-107248234841702.
“The website logo (above) incorporates the idea of crossing a threshold with the image of steps and the flowering of hope with the images of three leaves that in turn symbolise the persons of the Blessed Trinity,” he says. “Please pray for the work of formation and mission throughout the Church and for the Diocese of Brentwood’s own contribution to this.”
For a ‘taster’ of the forthcoming website please have a look at Fr Paschal Uche’s video below.