During the past year, the national committee has been keen to canvas views from among members and supporters as to how Quest should respond to challenges presented by a more modern age. We have approached this in two ways, one being the survey that went out in the last bulletin and the other was a relatively brief workshop at this year’s conference.
The survey has brought us 53 responders, 42 online and 11 by post which out of 200 or more potential responders is a more than reasonable return. Roughly three quarters who responded were men, which reflects the current makeup of our membership but which is something which the committee will continue to address. The large majority of responders were ‘cradle Catholic’, although some of the male responders were converts. A third of the men who replied were not open in their parish and a quarter did not belong to a parish at the moment. A third of the men were involved in ministry during Mass with some involved in other activities but for about half this didn’t apply. Interestingly, those who were active in their parish life were mostly not out and more were out to friends than they were their parish priest. All this was equally true for women.
Comments made further on in the survey refer to Quest making itself more visible and challenging, standing up more to the ‘men in frocks’. In terms of events, offering ‘lower budget’ retreats in addition to the conference was mentioned. However, the conference, along with the bulletin were cited among the things that Quest did best, while creating a safe space for gay and lesbian Catholics to come together. Some were just happy to know the group exists.
As part of a consideration of publicity and image, in the workshop we discussed audience and what how we should be communicating our message. Some groups have noticed a significant number of immigrants in their parish communities among whom it is very possible there are people who need us.
We certainly need to make even more use of online media and where we do use printed material it needs to be much more distribution-led – gone are the days of copies sitting in an attic awaiting dissemination. Much more preferable is an online document which can be reproduced when required. Also there was a call for people to be more proactive and not afraid of using new and available technology (e.g. Twitter) to raise awareness – although the committee has the responsibility to determine Quest’s ‘official’ position on an issue in the interests of its constitutional aims and objectives, there is nothing to stop individuals speaking about Quest.
And of course while discussing ideas in a workshop or analysing survey results does something to help map out a way forward the most important thing is that people consider “What can I do?” or even “What will I do”? It cannot be all left to the committee!
Once I have had the opportunity to discuss the survey further with the committee later this year, there should be something further to share in the next issues of the bulletin.
This text was originally published in the Quest Bulletin, no. 64 (Autumn 2012)