Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth is radically shaking up the structure of his diocese to put more focus on evangelisation.
The bishop announced last week that pastoral councils would be replaced by 22 evangelisation teams.
The teams, to be made up of eight lay people, a religious and three priests, will direct evangelisation efforts in their pastoral area, from activities such as “leafleting a new housing development with Mass times [to] running a stall on a local market or organising a ‘bring a friend to Mass campaign’”.
Ten thousand leaflets have been distributed across the diocese to explain how people can apply to join a team.
In a video message posted online the bishop said: “I want the team to represent all ages and types: a young person, a middle person, a wise and seasoned pilgrim, men and women, perhaps a teacher from one of the Catholic schools, and a religious too. Teams will meet once a term. It’s all about vision! Its purpose is to sponsor mission-projects across the area.”
“The process of recruitment will begin with a Holy Hour offered for the evangelisation teams in each local area over the next six weeks.”
The first round of team meetings is expected to take place after Easter.
Meanwhile, it emerged this week that the relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux’s parents will be touring the dioceses of Plymouth and Portsmouth in May.
Bishop Egan said the relics would be venerated in Southampton and at St John’s Cathedral in Portsmouth. He said he hoped the visit would “focus our prayers in the lead-up to the family synod” at the Vatican in October. Blessed Louis and Blessed Zélie Martin, whose five daughters all became nuns, were beatified in 2008.