What church means to Mary …

Cath Barton, AFG Rochdale’s Community Circles Co-ordinator has been facilitating a circle for Mary, supported in Rochdale, since July 2014. The purpose of Mary’s circle is to reconnect her with her faith community and help her redevelop friendships.

Cath tells the story of Mary’s first steps in reconnecting with her faith community in today’s blog.

What church means to Mary…

I had the pleasure of going to church with Mary today. It was lovely to see people who remembered Mary and came over to greet us, welcoming Mary back to church.

The purpose of Mary’s circle is to reconnect her with her faith community. At the moment the people in Mary’s life are those who are paid to be with her. We know that however great the support, quality in people’s lives often comes from those natural relationships, connections that can flourish based on shared interests, where people are valued.

As Cormac Russell says, “It is in this space of natural relationships where the magic happens.”

During the service I learned a lot about what good support for Mary looks like…

  • Mary walks slowly and can be hesitant with her footing, particularly when there is a change in surfaces. Mary likes to link her arm with you and it helps to remind her whether there is a step or not.
  • Mary likes to make a sign of the cross with Holy Water when arriving and leaving church.
  • She likes to take a moment or two when arriving in church to decide where she would like to sit.
  • Arriving early, at least 20 minutes before the start of the service is important, so that we can get a seat and not be stood at the back but also gives Mary time to light a candle. As there were other people lighting candles, it gives us an opportunity to greet them and for Mary to have presence in the church rather than just being present.
  • It’s important to Mary that she goes to communion. Mary joined the queue in front of me at first but was a little hesitant. Mary seemed more at ease when I asked if she wanted to me to go in front and gently guided her to the altar.Mary uses a few words to speak but mainly communicates through writing.  I asked Mary whether she had enjoyed the service, this is what she wrote…


  • This information could be developed into a one page profile for Mary, to share what is important to her and what good support looks like when going to church.  At Mary’s circle we continue to reflect together on what’s working well or what needs to change to ensure Mary has the best support to reconnect with her faith community.

Find out more about Community Circles:

Follow us on Twitter @c_circles Like our Facebook page Community Circles Follow our blog www.communitycirclesblog.wordpress.com Join our Groupsite www.communitycircles.groupsite.com

For further details or if you have any questions please contact Cath, AFG Rochdale Community Circles Co-ordinator on 07824096056 or cath@community-circles.co.uk

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