Creating a joyful parish

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It was a great joy to interview Fr Ken Lao, CC, the pastoral administrator of Holy Trinity Pastoral Unit, Nova Scotia, Canada. His pastoral unit joined the Divine Renovation Network in November, 2017. Fr Ken, CC has also been a guest on the Divine Renovation Podcast. His episode, Early Days of a Missional Parish, was featured on 20th April, 2018. Please check it out by downloading the Divine Renovation app on iTunes or Google Play.

Tell us about your pastoral unit

Our pastoral unit is made up of three parishes. The largest, with 500-600 parishioners attending on the weekend, is St John Vianney Parish. St Elizabeth Seton Parish is medium-sized with 150-200 parishioners attending on the weekend. The smallest is St Francis of Assisi Parish with around 60 people attending on the weekend. As there are different church sizes, the dynamics at each parish are very different. St Francis of Assisi Parish is like a family but, in contrast, St John Vianney is a big church so we have to be more intentional about building community there.

How has Divine Renovation impacted your parish?

We’ve really seen the fruit of people buying into the vision. So many leaders are coming forward- we had twenty-one people apply to be a part of the parish council which was amazing. Also, as we’ve continued the renewal process, there has been a continued decrease in the amount of pushback. Slowly people are understanding the why behind the decisions that we have to make.

Also, if I just relied on myself and the leadership team without the help of Divine Renovation, it would take us a long time to bring renewal. Having the support and encouragement from the  coaching in the Divine Renovation Network will speed up the process and make us much more effective. It is also very helpful to have access to so many resources with the Divine Renovation Association and the webinars and leadership sessions that we access monthly.

Describe your process of building a parish council

We were very intentional and thorough with our process of building a parish council. We began by opening it to anyone in the parish who was interested. However, they had to fulfill three requirements. They must have read or be in the process of reading Divine Renovation: From a Maintenance to a Missional Parish; attended or in the process of attending Alpha; and completed the Gallup CliftonStrengths assessment. These requirements were to ensure that they had bought into the vision of parish renewal and Divine Renovation. We then had two discernment nights where we explained our vision for the parish council and also had a lot of time for prayer and discernment. Then a week after these two nights we invited those who were still interested and still had the sense that the Lord was calling them to this position, to email the Holy Trinity Leadership Team. As a team we shortlisted the most suitable candidates and came up with six parish council members.

The parish council is excited to do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of the five systems of the parish (worship, evangelization, discipleship, fellowship and ministry) and based on that we will come up with a five-year pastoral plan.

What are your hopes for working with Divine Renovation?

I hope that our congregation triples in ten years and that it grows not just by the number but also the quality of disciples. We hope to form disciples who are really on fire for the Lord and who have hearts for the lost. Then we will be able to go out and invite people to Alpha, then invite them to church and make them disciples and the cycle will grow and grow. I also really look forward to having small communities like connect groups.

Thank you for #DR18

Our Divine Renovation Conference 2018 (DR18) started a week ago today, wow! We are so thankful for all who attended and watched on Livestream. We are also so grateful for our amazing volunteers. We can't wait to see how God is going to guide all the delegates as they return home. We are praying for you all.


Join us on Livestream

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Can't make it to the Divine Renovation Conference 2018?

Don't worry as you can watch all the plenaries and key breakout sessions on Livestream. In addition to the main parts of the conference, we will be hosting interviews with our delegates so you can hear some of their amazing stories.

So please join us on Monday June 11 and Tuesday June 12 from 8am ADT to 8:30pm ADT.

Click here to join us:

DR18 Conference Livestream

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Can't make it to the Divine Renovation Conference 2018?

Don't worry as you can watch all the plenaries and key breakout sessions on Livestream. In addition to the main parts of the conference, we will be hosting interviews with our delegates so you can hear some of their amazing stories.

So please join us on Monday June 11 and Tuesday June 12 from 8am ADT to 8:30pm ADT.

Click here to join us:

A mission to form courageous disciples

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Fr Keith Herrera

St Mary’s Cathedral, Aberdeen, Scotland

It was an absolute joy to interview Fr Keith Herrera, Cathedral Administrator of St Mary’s Cathedral in Aberdeen, Scotland. He is filled with so much excitement and enthusiasm for the renewal of his parish which was a delight to witness.

Tell us about your parish

St Mary’s Cathedral has 1600 people, on average, attending our weekend masses. It is different to the parishes that I have been a priest at before because it is so large and so it takes much more time and intentionality to build community. It is also very multicultural and more than half the parishioners are Polish. We are a new member of the Divine Renovation Network as we just joined in mid-February 2018.

What is the current climate of the Scottish Catholic church?

It really depends where you are in Scotland as each diocese is doing things very differently. Here in Aberdeen it is quite positive. The amount of people attending mass has remained the same or grown, I think mostly due to immigration. I also believe that there is a change happening in the way the church feels about itself. People are starting to regain their pride of being Catholic as there has been some new bishops, new initiatives and the diocese is doing a lot for youth. However, in a lot of other places in Scotland, nothing much has changed and the maintenance culture is still firmly in place.

Why did you decide to join the Divine Renovation Network?

I decided to join because I read Divine Renovation and had attended several conferences but I tried to put things into place on my own and it did not go so well. So after chatting with Father James Mackay, who is in the Divine Renovation Network, and hearing about how useful and amazing the coaching is in the network, I thought “That’s what I need!” I need somebody to come alongside me and help me as I know that I cannot do this by myself. Making changes in the cathedral is a major task and I need other people to help. I want the cathedral to come to life.

How did you get your bishop’s approval to join the Divine Renovation Network?

The clergy at the cathedral would read documents and books together with the bishop and one of these books was Divine Renovation. So he was very aware of Divine Renovation. I said to the bishop that I would really like to join the Divine Renovation Network and make changes but there would be no point unless I am there for a significant amount of time. He was open to that so we joined the network.

What are your hopes for working with Divine Renovation?

I hope for the full and total transformation of the parish and the parishioners. We have begun to formulate a vision and the current vision is “To form courageous disciples”.

Divine Renovation Day UK- Wednesday 9 May, 2018

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In London at the beginning of May, hundreds of people gathered for a sold-out Divine Renovation event. The aim of the event was to inspire people in the Catholic world who desire to see change in their parishes. These parishes, which were from across the UK and Europe, also got the opportunity to share their stories and successes with implementing Divine Renovation.

Several members of the Divine Renovation Ministry team were in London running the event and here they share their highlights:

Father James Mallon

Founder of Divine Renovation Ministry

My highlight was hearing the testimony of parish leaders, some of whom were not even on our radar, about the fruit of changed lives in their parishes. As far as I’m concerned, the transferability of Divine Renovation principles has been proven. Deo gratias.

Dan O’Rourke

Executive Director

My highlight was Fr Simon Lobo’s, CC (Pastor of Saint Benedict Parish, Halifax) closing talk on Fr. Bob Bedard,CC and the Holy Spirit. He also led amazing prayer time.

Anne Marie Sime

Divine Renovation Ministry Team

My highlight was the sheer number of people. Also, the witnesses of the parishes recounting their Divine Renovation experience in their parish. This is not just in a book anymore, it’s real.

Nathan Myatt

Media Director

My highlight was Fr Simon Lobo’s Holy Spirit session in the afternoon. Fr Simon gave amazing energy and enthusiasm. It was very inspiring.

Paul Lang

Audio Engineer

My highlight was meeting people who are involved in Divine Renovation. It was powerful to see the impact of Divine Renovation and its impact.


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Prayers for all

In this week's Divine Renovation team meeting, we prayed for the many people who are supporting the Divine Renovation Ministry.

We prayed for:

  • the Divine Renovation Network
  • the Divine Renovation Association
  • the delegates attending the upcoming DR18 conference
  • the parishes where the delegates are coming from
  • our social media followers
  • our investors
  • and all who support the Divine Renovation Ministry.

It was so amazing to pray and reflect on the amount of people who are supporting us. 

Thank you and God bless you


The Great Commission

This Sunday's Gospel (May 27, 2018) tells us of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). In this Gospel the disciples are told to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20)

In Fr James Mallon's book, Divine Renovation: From a Maintenance to a Missional Parish , he explains that the hinge of the Great Commission is to make disciples. Fr Mallon writes, "This task [to make disciples] is the very heart of the Great Commission, and it is around the making of disciples that all the other missionary aspects of the Church revolve: the going, the baptizing and the teaching." (pg. 19-20)

So as you listen and pray with the Gospel this Sunday, we urge you to reflect on this Great Commission and to act in making disciples.


Bringing community to your parish- An interview with Fr Michael Leclerc


Tell us about your parish

St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish is located in the city of Montreal, next to Concordia University and is one of a small number of English-speaking parishes in a primarily French-speaking city. It is mid-size for their diocese with an average of 500 people attending mass over the weekend.

What do you love about your parish?

I love the mix of parishioners- young, young at heart and so many who are saying ‘Yes!’ to our renewed vision for our parish. It is exciting that there is a core group of parishioners who are already disciples and there are so many more who are excited by the many changes and our new direction.

What is your parish’s vision statement?

We are a welcoming and joyful spiritual home where people encounter Jesus, choose to follow him and become fully alive. We are missionary disciples helping all people to know, love, and serve Christ and His Kingdom.

When did you first come across Divine Renovation? And what excited you about it?

I had heard of the book but I hadn’t yet read it, when I was approached by Auxiliary Bishop Tom Dowd to do an internship at Saint Benedict Parish. As soon as I accepted it, I devoured the book and was so excited to see what was possible for a parish.

How has Divine Renovation impacted your parish? Do you have a story that highlights this impact?

Divine Renovation has called us to be a parish where people can really belong. This was lived out when we started having welcomers at our doors at mass. At the Corpus Christi feast, two of our welcomers welcomed a young family with great warmth, excitement and so upheld the parish’s values. This couple and their daughter were ‘church shopping’ as they just moved into the area and were trying to find the best church for them. They felt so loved by the welcome they received, that they kept returning and forged a friendship with the welcomers. When their second daughter was born, the two welcomers were asked to be the child’s godparents.

What role has evangelization played in your divine renovation?

Evangelization has been key in two ways- ensuring quality experiences and creating an invitational culture. We strive to have a positive Alpha and weekend mass experience so then parishioners want to invite others. We have also been intentional about creating an invitational culture through always seeking opportunities to talk about it and model it.  

How has your parish’s experience of the power of the Holy Spirit changed?

We never used to speak about the Holy Spirit- He used to be seen as a benign force. Yet, now we believe that the Holy Spirit is an active force and an agent of transformation. We allow room for the Holy Spirit to work and the Holy Spirit takes up all the room that you give it!

Tell me about your Senior Leadership Team- how has it been impacted by Divine Renovation?

My Senior Leadership Team has reinvigorated my priesthood. I have a group of people who I love and trust who are fully committed to success. I am now never alone in making decisions and we work through issues together to get the best solution. Also, they always push me to be better and to stay focused so we will never stray into maintenance mode with them around!

What is your dream for your parish?

That everyone has deep and lasting friendships that they have made in the parish and can’t wait to worship with them at mass.

How do you prepare for guests?

There are hundreds of volunteers preparing right now. What's got them busy?


Hundreds of participants are joining us in Halifax in less than 4 weeks for the sold-out Divine Renovation 2018 Halifax Conference.

What detail has the team most excited?

Saint Benedict Parishioners are being invited to pray for every single parish attending the conference. If you or someone from your parish is going to join us in Halifax, know that we will be praying for your parish by name. 

It's still not too late to join our waiting list, we've been sneaking people in as much as we can. And if you're unable to join us in person, you'll be able to catch a portion of the conference on Livestream.