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Establishing Discussion Groups

The workbook, video, evaluation forms, and facilitator training are provided by the Beyond the Boundaries office.

The parish provides the facilitators for the small groups, the meeting space, and handles registration.

Discussion Group Workbook
  • The Discussion Group workbook has eight structured sessions. The easy-to-follow format allows the group to readily focus on, and work through, the topics. Each session is approximately one and a half hours long.
  • A video is also provided to each group for use in two of the discussion sessions.
  • Contact the Beyond the Boundaries office or the Program Manager to obtain the workbook as you develop the plans for your Discussion Group.

Coordinate with your Pastor

Obtain approval from your pastor; your pastor will be familiar with the Beyond the Boundaries program and the Archdiocese's priority for this program. Then, enlist the support of the Parish Council and other Leaders of your parish.

  • Share with your pastor how you plan to organize or establish the program, or how others could be recruited to manage the registration and administration of the program.
  • Your pastor's and parish leadership support is crucial to the success of the program. Although the pastor may be familiar with Beyond the Boundaries and quite willing to offer his support, with many other priorities drawing his attention he may rely on your assistance in establishing the program.

Partner with another Parish

Discussions will be greatly enhanced if parishes partner with another parish for more diversity, depth of experience, meaningful discussion, and collaborative solutions

  • If you already have a peer relationship with another parish, you may want to join with them to conduct a Beyond the Boundaries discussion group.
  • Or, you may contact the Program Manager to obtain a recommendation for another parish.
  • Partner parishes should meet jointly to work out the details for their discussion sessions.

Participants may want to meet as one large group at the beginning and ending of each session. For the discussions, however, we recommend smaller groups of approximately 8 to 10 people with at least one facilitator for each discussion group.

  • Each small group will need a facilitator. If your parish is joining with another parish, you may want to have two facilitators for each small group (one from each parish). One may serve as a lead facilitator with the other as back up, or they may want to co-lead.
  • Introduction and Training for facilitators: Training for facilitators is available; contact the Program Manager.
  • Good facilitators are a key element for a successful program. The Parish Leader will want to make sure that the facilitator works well with their small groups.

Your pastor's support is critical. Ask him to encourage parishioners to sign up for the Beyond the Boundaries groups through:
  • Announcements by the pastor or associates at Mass
  • The Pastor's letter in the bulletin
  • Parish Leaders: Ask Parish Council members, parish leaders, and other parish faith-sharing groups to participate and encourage others to join.

Organizing Registration

The parish organizes registration and administration of the small groups. If the parish has someone that coordinates faith-sharing groups, perhaps registration may be handled through that office.

Advertising for Participants

  • Early bulletin announcements and information sheets will introduce parishioners to the Beyond the Boundaries program and let them know that registration will begin soon. (An introductory session also helps by providing an overview.)
  • Announce registration three or more weeks in advance. Allow parishioners to sign up:
    • with simple registration forms (in the pews and/or in the bulletin) that could be dropped in the collection baskets (obtain pastor's permission for this),
    • at a registration table between certain weekend Masses, or by telephone

  • Determine the best frequency for the discussions - perhaps weekly or every-other week. (Most participants suggest alternate weeks.)
  • What day or evening would work best? Or, do you have enough participants to offer discussion sessions at several times? Parishes have selected Sunday afternoons, weekday evenings, or daytime for the discussions, as well as a combination of these times, depending on what works best for the participants.


An introductory session encourages participation and provides a solid foundation for discussions.  This is arranged at a convenient time for the group; recommended length is 2-3 hours.

Posters, brochures, and information sheets are available from the Beyond the Boundaries office. Many parishioners are not familiar with the Beyond the Boundaries and need more information about the program.

Evaluation forms are available from the BtB program office. Leaders are asked to distribute forms at the second-last session. This gives participants ample time to provide comments for improving the program.

Recommendations for Discussion Groups

  • Liturgy: many participants suggested discussions following a Liturgy--preferably attending a regular Liturgy to more fully experience the community atmosphere of their partner parish.
  • Share a meal or refreshments: The most successful groups shared a simple meal before or after their discussion. This provided a casual, pleasant experience to build their relationships.
  • Youth Groups: Consider offering a shorter, simpler series for Youth Groups.
  • Babysitting: Could Youth Groups, or others, offer babysitting so that parents could take part in the discussions?

Beyond the Boundaries Continuing Our Dialogue & Events

Beyond the Boundaries offers opportunities for participants to continue their journey in social justice, meet others, share ideas, and work together on regional activities.
Expand the awareness of parishioners and enlarge your circle by inviting others to participate in Beyond the Boundaries.
Are participants interested in continuing discussions on social justice issues? There are several workbooks for discussions on social justice issues.

All Set?
  • Contact the Program Manager to let her know your parish will be participating, to set up a convenient time for the facilitator introduction and training, and to obtain the video and workbooks.
  • As your parish proceeds with Discussion Group sessions, please check with the Program Manager if questions arise.

Questions? Need more information? Want to sign up? Please call: 443/286-4731 or