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Archive for October, 2019

SYCAMORE: A NEW PROGRAMME OF EVANGELISATION, CATECHESIS, AND FAITH FORMATION

https://www.sycamore.fm/ 

Sycamore has launched! Visit our website to see how you could use the resources in your parish, school, chaplaincy and beyond.

WHAT IS SYCAMORE?

Sycamore is an informal course about the Christian faith and its relevance for life today. It gives people space to meet others, share ideas, explore their beliefs, and think about questions that really matter.

Each Sycamore session involves a short film and time for discussion. There’s no pressure and no commitment. People can be themselves without any fear of being judged. There’s a real sense of community, a spirit of friendship, some great conversation, and often some delicious food. Everyone is welcome.

The high-quality films are engaging, thought-provoking, and accessible to those with little or no religious background. They explore the richness of the Christian tradition from a Catholic perspective, connecting the core Christian message with a vision of the sacramental and moral life. They also appeal to people from different Christian traditions and backgrounds. The films are presented by Fr Stephen Wang, a Catholic priest in London with much experience in teaching and media work, and they include Christian testimonies and street interviews about the challenges of believing today.

Sycamore has been created for parishes, schools, university chaplaincies, prisons and beyond. It develops leaders, builds community, creates genuine friendships, and helps the wider Christian community to become more open and welcoming. Discussion questions are built into the films so that the sessions can be run very easily.

Why the name “Sycamore”? In the bible, Jesus comes to the town of Jericho. A man called Zacchaeus is so curious about Jesus that he climbs a Sycamore tree to get a better view. When he finally meets him, they begin a conversation, and his life is changed forever.

The films, supplementary resources and training materials for group leaders are all available online. You can register, free of charge, as a leader, which gives you access to all the planning and training materials. You can then take out a subscription on behalf of your community which allows you to view and download the films and publicity materials. See especially these online pages: What makes Sycamore different?, Key ingredients of Sycamore, and Testimonials from Leaders.

Sycamore is a UK Charity (“Sycamore Roman Catholic Charity”, CIO Number 1182843). You can contact us via the website.

 

FEEDBACK FROM THOSE WHO HAVE USED IT

One parish catechist gave this testimony about her experience:

“Sycamore has been an overwhelming joy for many people, it has enabled them to open their hearts and to share their faith in ways they never imagined possible.

Many people who were reluctant to speak about faith openly, have gained confidence and trust through participation in the discussion topics, and have been amazed at the difference it makes to their prayer life, to their understanding of scripture, and to their desire to develop a personal relationship with Jesus.

This is for us a grace filled and blessed moment in the life of our parish, the foundations go very deep in these groups and friendships develop and grow each year, and it’s wonderful to witness people’s growth in faith and commitment to the Lord” (Pauline from Oxford)

Praise for the programme from Christian leaders:

“A magnificent piece of work!” (Fr Chris Vipers, Director of Evangelisation, Diocese of Westminster).

“A great gift of God and just what the Church needs right now” (Fr Charlie Fox, Spiritual Director to the St Paul Street Evangelisation Movement).

“Really needed and timely. The fact that this is a British production is vital for the UK Church and the Church internationally” (Olivia Raw, Catholic Chaplain at SOAS University and School Counsellor).

“An invaluable contribution to contemporary evangelisation” (Fr Thomas White, Director of the Aquinas Institute, Rome).

“Fully comprehensive, systematically Catholic, very adaptable, and offers something dynamic, interactive and high quality” (Fr Jon Bielawski, Director of Evangelisation, Plymouth Diocese).

 

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How can Sycamore help your parish or community? Take a look at these two testimonies below from leaders who have just started running Sycamore in their parishes, in two very different contexts.
For more information see the website here: https://www.sycamore.fm/ and especially the “Why Start a Group?” page here: https://www.sycamore.fm/about-sycamore/why-start-a-group/
 
Fr Mark Harold, from Bamber Bridge in Preston writes:
“We had our first session with parents of children preparing for First Holy Communion this week. It was very well received. We have usually presented the parents with an explanation of what the children are doing with their catechists; however, that approach does not really stimulate the parents’ faith – it perhaps simply repeats the teaching they heard themselves as children but does not relate to them today. Sycamore helps to put matters of faith into their sphere of experience today and we hope will encourage them to journey with their children over the next 9 months. We have six sessions scheduled over the programme so we are using the 6 videos given for the “Pathway for Lent”.”
 
Fr Anselm, OSB, from Downside Abbey writes:
“We ran the Sycamore course in St Benedict’s Parish, run by Downside Abbey. The group that came really enjoyed the structure of each session. We started with some food (just coffee and biscuits usually) and an opportunity to catch up, before watching the video. As the group leader, it was actually very easy! I simply needed to facilitate the discussion, and from a purely selfish point of view, I had to prepare very little in advance, which made it not only easy, but even a good experience for me as well!
The videos are excellent – and the new series has better quality sound and picture. They are really well structured, and the questions seem a little off-beam at times, but they all come together to make sense and to make everyone think about their faith in the context of their whole life. Fr Stephen Wang’s presentations are masterly! Complex theological ideas are explained well and clearly – but not watered down – without using unnecessary jargon. And technical terminology, when necessary, is explained.
We are starting Sycamore again in September. A number of members of the original group have asked when we are going to start! That is always a good sign.”

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How your faithfulness in little things prepares you for very big things ahead. A homily by Fr Stephen Wang

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Swipe left or swipe right? How does God approach us and how do we approach the stranger?

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