Pope Francis and Evangelisation - Introducing the Landings Lecture

Young man praying at Farm st church, london
Mass at Farm st church, london

This year’s Landings Lecture will be given by Dr Austen Ivereigh, papal biographer and Catholic Voices co-founder, on the subject: ‘Close and Concrete: Pope Francis on how to Evangelise in a World in Flux’.  This is a vital topic for us all in the Church as it invites us to consider how as individuals and as a faith community we reach out to others.  Landings aims to fill a gap in the Church by providing a compassionate, sensitive, honest space to accompany those who are considering returning to more regular practice of the faith.  The programme aims to truly accompany those who need time, space and compassionate listening through small group work, as they make the journey back to a parish community.  Landings, however, only works within the context of a parish community which is welcoming to all and aims to reach out beyond itself to those who may be curious about our faith and life.  Our new glass doors at Farm Street represent what we are called to be.  A faith community which looks out into the world and whose doors are always open for people to come and see.  Those who ‘return’ to church may not have previously been Catholic and not drifted away for whatever reason.  Those who come may not have been brought up Christian at all.  Such enquirers require a fuller teaching programme as part of their welcome.  Our aim however is very similar.  Above all to be a place of welcome where people feel they can be accompanied in various ways. 

This is very much the vision of Pope Francis for our Church.  It is, as Dr Ivereigh will discuss in the Landings Lecture, a vision of Church which requires a “pastoral conversion” expressed in a missionary going-out to the excluded, offering a personal encounter with Jesus, and a building of bonds in an age of increasing displacement. The parish community is the place where this broader pastoral vision is to be played out locally.  Sometimes we hear the question asked: “Why have so many stopped practising the Catholic faith?”  “What will attract them to come back?”  These are questions I hear all the time.  From committed Catholics of all generations, from other Christians and people of faith.  From those who have no formal connection with the Church I have often met at a Wedding or Memorial Service reception or at a social event.  Such discussions are often really enlightening.  I learn a lot from hearing of people’s need for a faith that is lived in the real, for a Church that is truly welcoming and which is called to continue to recognise where it has caused hurt and driven people away.  To address these questions is surely vital to the future of the faith community.  Pope Francis is continuing to offer us inspiration and encouragement to engage with these questions and to propose answers to them from the experience of our pastoral practice rooted in a picture of the Church as local and global, welcoming in and sending out, faithful to our tradition yet with doors open to the outside world.  The vision grapples with tensions which are real yet propose a programme of evangelisation and pastoral outreach which is close and concrete.  In seeing the Church as principally a field hospital she is above all to show the human face of God. 

This is why it is a great privilege and pleasure to continue to develop the Landings programme in the UK from its now established base at Farm Street and so to host this now annual Landings Lecture.  Please make sure you put the date in your diary for what should be an inspiring evening on a topic which highlights what we are all about as a faith community and what with the guidance of the Holy Spirit we aim to be. 

To book a place, contact our parish administrator Scott McCombe at farmstreetoffice@rcdow.org.uk or on (020)-7529-4829. The recommended donation to cover costs, including the buffet supper to follow, is £10.

Fr Dominic Robinson SJ