Last weekend saw the first in a new initiative among the parishes of St. Colmcille’s Pastoral Area, where the local priests celebrated Masses in neighbouring parishes. It seems to have gone very well, and we would love to hear your feedback about the initiative. Please feel free to contact any of the parishes by email.
This is part of a process to facilitate closer collaboration within the Pastoral Area as the future of all our parishes will lie in this direction.
The area takes in the four parishes on the east coast running from Togher in the North to Termonfechin in the South. Clogherhead in the East, and Tenure in the West. An area approximately 190 sq. Km. There are over 2,500 catholic families in this area. The area has 9 Churches, 9 schools, and is served by 4 active priests, with 3 priests ‘in residence’ in the area. Each parish has an active Parish Pastoral Council, and the four parishes together have a Pastoral Area Resource Team (PART), who along with the Vf (Vicar forane – an appointment by the Archbishop) promote closer working together of the Pastoral Area.
Many of the structures we have at the moment evolved in an Ireland where most people walked to Church, and at a time when there was a period of expansion in the Catholic faith in this country. Now we have entered a new phase.
There is a need for consolidation to take account of how faith practice has developed and will continue to develop into the future. The Covid-19 Pandemic has also had a significant effect with many people still choosing to engage with Church via webcam, and as priests become older and fewer in number, more things will happen together, rather than in individual parishes.
Facing the Future:
As we go forward, it will be unlikely that there will be sufficient priests to replace all those who retire. Therefore, remaining priests will become responsible for larger areas. In order to best prepare for this eventuality, we must begin now by working together on the things we can, and putting into place the structures which will help us meet the challenges of the parishes of the future.
Change is not easy – for any of us! It can bring many challenges, and often make people very fearful. However, it is important to remember as a people of faith that we do not face these realities alone. God’s Spirit is with us as we seek to navigate the way forward, especially in these post-pandemic times.
While the future will certainly bring change, there will be many things which will stay the same, and there will be new opportunites to engage with faith and Church both in our own parish and the wider Pastoral Area.
1. Praying for the future;
2. Taking part in the life of your parish/pastoral area using your gifts/talents to benefit the life of the parish/area;
3. Share your faith in Jesus with those around you;
4. Keep yourself informed and up to date with developments on this front.