Who are we?

The community of Saint Merry outside-the-walls

For the past forty five years, the Saint Merry Pastoral Centre has been based at the church of Saint Merry. It was created in 1975 by Cardinal François Marty and officially disbanded in February 2021 by decision of Archbishop Aupetit. It has since become Saint Merry outside-the-walls: for how can such a vibrant community be dissolved? None of its members has dissolved in a bath of acid! Saintmerryens are currently working on a new pastoral project, mindful of its earliest intuitions and the mission entrusted to it originally. These remain as up-to-date as ever: to spread the gospel in today’s world, in particular among those who feel estranged from the Church but seek spiritual nourishment and fellowship, in a language that is contemporary and accessible to all.

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For almost 50 years, as an integral part of the Paris diocese, the Saint Merry Pastoral Centre has “experimented ” new ways of spreading God’s word, “inventing new ways of working for the Church of tomorrow” to use the words of Cardinal Marty’s mission Letter From the outset, the pastoral approach has been conducted in a spirit of research, of warm welcome and solidarity, rooted in the realities of everyday life, uniting priests and lay people in a working relationship of shared responsibility in the service of the Gospels.

Members of the community enrolled in working groups will take a fresh look at the founding principles, reformulate and reinvest them within the framework of this new context around five main pastoral themes: liturgy and governance; unconditional welcome; social and humanitarian projects; culture, contemporary art and active fellowship.

Everything therefore has to be reinvented, like being born again: for if the seed does not die… For its members, the Pastoral Centre is a privileged place in which to engage in a life of fellowship that draws its strength from the love of Christ. This love, shared in confidence, is destined to go beyond the community to embrace the dimensions of the Church, «to open new ways to the daring of the Spirit” and enrich our commitments in the service of the Church. 

Extracts from Cardinal Marty’s mission Letter of 1975 

For the church of tomorrow… new ways of working. Les Halles, the Beaubourg plateau… (…) The centre of Paris is witnessing the emergence and development of places for research and meeting, places for business and pleasure, centres of culture and artistic expression to cater to all tastes and will attract each day, and for each major event, thousands of people. No need to emphasise the importance this will have in the years to come. There are many churches in this area (…). They are the visible signs of the Church these Christian parishes with their many different forms of local ministry. They will continue to serve the needs of their particular area. But they must also allow new ways of working for the church of tomorrow to be invented. They must not become museums. For several years now, Christians have been concerned about how best to meet the needs of those who will move into these renovated areas, all those who work or live there. How to devise ways of praying in a variety of styles: create opportunities to meet, to communicate, to welcome; reflect and deepen one’s faith through contact with new forms of culture… Priests (…) and lay people will continue such research and take the necessary initiatives to develop a truly original pastoral service adapted to meet the needs of this non-territorial sector. 

Innovative liturgy and ways of governing founded on co-responsibility

A welcome extended to all without exception

Social projects: commitment in solidarity

An opening to culture and contemporary art