The Faith in the Workplace programme was launched in the parish in September 2008. It was a response to a provision in the Sacred Heart Parish Plan which aims at providing regular opportunities for Christians to examine, discuss and advise each other how best to fulfil their Christian vocation at work, and on issues of conscience which may arise or have arisen.
The programme is an adaptation of the Woodstock Business Conference, which was developed by the Woodstock Theological Centre of the Jesuit University of Georgetown, Washington DC, and which has been successful in the United States in bringing businessmen together to reflect on faith issues in the workplace. The programme was introduced to the United Kingdom in 2005 by the Heythrop College Institute of Religion, Ethics and Public Life.
The programme is based on small groups of up to 10-12 members who, using the overall approach of Ignatian spirituality, meet to allow the Spirit to integrate their lives more completely – their lives as people of faith, as members of their families, as men and women engaged in business and professional work – and so to enable them to express their faith and our values in ways that will influence their places of work and the wider world.
Meetings are short, regular and businesslike. They focus on topics drawn from working life, discussing it the light of prayer and reflection on Scripture. Between meetings, members set aside time for prayer, reading and reflection. They also take part in occasional retreats, study days and seminars. We follow thematic programmes and papers which have been prepared by the Institute of Religion, Ethics and Public Life. Currently they are on the theme of Vocations. The next series will be on the theme of Virtues.
Within the parish there are currently two groups, which meet once a month. Membership is not restricted to Sacred Heart parishioners and non Catholic Christians are equally welcome to participate. One group meets on a Wednesday evening and the other on Saturday morning. Members find that the reflection and sharing amongst the group does help them in the challenges and problems which arise in their working environments. Canon John Clark is the chaplain to each group and attends the meetings.