St Joseph Parish Communication Team Leader Brent Durham interviews parish priest Fr Matthew d’Hereaux about the importance of the Ministry Animation Team (MAT).
Q: Fr Matthew you have spent a lot of time promoting the MAT in our parish and I am curious to find out why.
Fr d’Hereaux: The parish is the place where our people live and experience the gospel of Jesus Christ through Christian ministry. Every person walking through our doors and gates ought to experience ministry at its best.
The MAT is part of the vision of the Archdiocese to have parishes alive and active through a wide range of ministries meeting the real needs of real people. The MAT helps the parish through ongoing formation of ministries by training and development in order to encourage and inspire them to act in response to both the people’s need and the call of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The MAT ensures the ongoing training and development of the ministries so that they can better serve parishioners in their need.
The MAT is tasked by the parish priest and parish council to motivate, train and develop the ministries of the parish.
The MAT has a hands-on role in working at the ongoing formation/development of each ministry. Whereas the parish priest and parish council have an administrative function to say what ministries exist, who comprises them and, what they do. The MAT in turn ensures that the ‘who’ is formed and developed to achieve the ‘what’.
The MAT plays a specialised role in forming/developing the ministers of the parish to better conduct its mission in the parish. Comparatively, just as the Archbishop, Vicar General and the Vicar for Clergy ensures the ongoing formation of priests and permanent deacons in the Archdiocese, the MAT ensures the ongoing formation of lay people in parish ministry for parish ministry.
Q: You have said that the MAT adds value to a parish. What do you mean by this?
Fr d’Hereaux: The MAT is part of the parish architecture to use the words of Archbishop Gordon. The Parish must have not only liturgical ministry but all kinds of ministry that assist the parish in its mission to the world. Without proper formation, ministries die, lose interest or become ineffective.
The reality is that ministry leaders are sometimes busy with work and school and have to spend a lot of time organising the day-to-day function of the ministry. This on its own is no easy task.
The MAT ensures parish ministries are more than functioning; they are being formed and developed for their function. Why? Because we have to serve our parishioners the best ways we can.
The MAT exists to further motivate and inspire the people in each ministry. The MAT assists the leadership of ministries to keep their ministries active, alive, motivated, trained and inspired to do their work of mission.
The MAT keeps the ministry missionary oriented. In a few words, the MAT animates and motivates members of a ministry through their ongoing formation to provide great service to the people of God in the parish.
Q: What are a few examples of the role of the St Joseph MAT in your parish?
Fr d’Hereaux: Stewardship and Ministry go hand in hand. Stewardship is a spirituality that guides ministry and parish life. Stewardship promotes time, talent and treasure for ministry and encourages our people to get involved in ministry.
The St Joseph MAT is working with each ministry to produce a handbook that outlines the vision, role, responsibility of each ministry. This will be used not only to guide the ministry in its day-to-day organisation and general vision but to attract members to the ministry via the spirituality of stewardship.
The ministry handbook can be given to someone to peruse as the first step of inviting them to stewardship and Christian ministry.
In St Joseph, the stewardship ministry of our parish will soon invite all ministries to our Ministry Fair to be announced; the handbooks will be used by the ministries in the fair to help attract new membership.
Another way the MAT is helping us in St Joseph is through ongoing faith formation. They are assisting me in running a series on the seven sacraments by Bishop Barron for everyone involved in ministry in St Joseph Mt D’or. They are going to help in the establishment of a Eucharistic adoration chapel and Christian meditation for all ministry membership and the entire parish.
They were pivotal in the synodal process as well as acting on the synodal feedback. Finally, I see the parish MAT as crucial to helping create 62 “amazing parishes” with wonderful “Sunday experiences” as envisioned by the Archbishop and the Archdiocese.
Q: Fr Matthew, you have mentioned ongoing formation as a big part of the MAT’s role. Can you tell us more of what this ongoing formation looks like?
Fr d’Hereaux: Any group or organisation has to be continuously motivated and animated to be faithful to its goal and vision. In Christian ministry, this comes through ongoing Christian formation to be in service of the mission of the Church. All ministries must be helped in looking after its collective spiritual development, its capacity to work as a team for Kingdom-driven reasons and, finally, its faith development. Ongoing formation/development of parish ministries would involve the MAT ensuring that the ministries are faithful to:
The MAT helps the Archdiocese in implementing/realising its vision of Integral Human Development. These three areas above summarise the assistance the MAT gives to the ministries in a parish.
Remember the MAT forms/develops the ‘who’ (the ministers) so that they can be in service of the ‘what’ (mission).