Building Relationships Among Communities at the Same Parish
The Cathedral Parish of St. Raphael consists of two churches, Holy Redeemer and St. Patrick, in downtown Madison, Wisconsin. Although the two churches are merely blocks apart, each has a unique population. 60% of Holy Redeemer’s parishioners speak Spanish, while most people who attend St. Patrick speak English. Ministry staff at the Cathedral Parish pursued a relationship with The Evangelical Catholic after observing a distressing number of individuals who ceased attending Mass after they had received the sacraments. Married couples would only attend the church long enough to get married, or teens to get confirmed. The church pastor and staff knew they could do more to help engage individuals in the Church and encounter Jesus.
Msgr. Holmes began the partnership with The Evangelical Catholic with the desire to build a large network of small groups that would connect parishioners and build a culture of prayer, devotion to Scripture, and friendship. He dreamed of creating community in new, transformative ways.
The Cathedral Parish has both a strong English-speaking community as well as a Spanish-speaking community. Rolling out the training group to both communities was essential even though the onsite leadership team primarily spoke English. Two bilingual parishioners, prominent in the Spanish community, joined the first training group with the hope that they could lead Spanish-speaking small groups and training groups in the future. After the first training group, these two bilingual leaders successfully hosted a Spanish-speaking training group, which began to bear fruit in Lent 2020. The newly trained leaders immediately launched twelve small groups, the first Spanish-speaking small groups at the Cathedral Parish.
As part of a strategy proposed by The Evangelical Catholic, small groups have proved transformative within the Cathedral Parish. Small groups connect people who otherwise would not interact. Parishioners now come together after Mass and friendships are blossoming between the two communities, a social dynamic previously not experienced within the parish.