The Pastoral Area of St Francis of Assisi
Pastoral Area Council of Central Bedfordshire
Incorporating the Catholic churches and schools of :
Biggleswade, Dunstable, Flitwick Leighton Buzzard and Shefford
Pastoral Area Council
Following his arrival in the diocese in 2005, Bishop Peter established a working party to look at better co-ordinating activities and using scarce resources. The pastoral areas, of which there are 13, were seen as a way forward and a council was set up in each one. Their role is to share in the work which Bishop Peter leads through his Walking Humbly with God and A Thriving Catholic Community initiatives.
Our pastoral area of St Francis covers Biggleswade, Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard and Shefford parishes as well as our own.
In 2010 each Pastoral Area Council was asked to produce, and submit to the bishop for approval, a groundplan showing how they would work towards becoming thriving catholic communities and, equally importantly, cope with the dwindling number of priests
An immediate and direct consequence for Sacred Heart Flitwick was the transfer of Deacon Philip to us from Dunstable. The plan was updated in 2014 and it was this plan which on being implemented, led to Canon Bennie becoming parish priest for both Flitwick and Shefford parishes at the death of Canon Denis. The retirement of the parish priest of Biggleswade has meant that the plan had to take into account the further loss of a priest so Fr. John Danford became the parish priest for both Flitwick and Leighton Buzzard.
The groundplan also outlines wider aspirations for the pastoral area. Success have been the training days for Readers, Eucharistic Minister and catechists designed to share best practice and ensure consistency across the pastoral area as well as some initiatives for our youth.
Belonging to a wider faith community has enriched us all. It has led to greater support across the group and we at Sacred Heart have undoubtedly been the greater recipients of this support in recent times. It has encouraged parishes to work together, inviting one another to events like, faith development courses and our pilgrimages have benefited greatly from including parishioners from Dunstable and Shefford.