Local Gathering for Synod Feedback

You are invited to gather – in person – at The Forge, Drumshallon on Wednesday 23rd February, 2022 at 8pm – to participate in a consultative process. All Welcome.

As many of you already know, Pope Francis has called on the Global Catholic Church to engage in a process of ‘Listening’ in a new way to the voice of the Spirit, about how the Church is to face the challenges of the future.

This process is called a Synod

Each Country, and each Diocese has been asked to organise opportunities for all people to participate in the process;

Together, all the baptised are the subject of the sensus fidelium, the living voice of the People of God. At the same time, in order to participate fully in the act of discerning, it is important for the baptised to hear the voices of other people in their local context, including people who have left the practice of the faith, people of other faith traditions, people of no religious belief, etc. For as the Council declares: “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to  raise an echo in their hearts” (GS, 1).  For this reason, while all the baptized are specifically called to take part in the Synodal Process, no one – no matter their religious affiliation – should be excluded from sharing their perspective and experiences, insofar as they want to help the Church on her synodal journey of seeking what is good and true. This is especially true of those who are most vulnerable or marginalized. 

https://www.synod.va/content/dam/synod/document/common/vademecum/Vademecum-EN-A4.pdf
The Synodal Process is first and foremost a spiritual process.
It is not a mechanical data-gathering exercise or a series of meetings and debates

Our Country has a website dedicated to the process – you can find it here

The Armagh Diocesan Synodal Core Group is very mindful of the difficulties Covid-19 has posed for parishes. It has organised a virtual consultation that will broadcast twice a day 3pm and 8.30pm, Monday to Friday, from the 7th February to the 25th February on the St. Patrick’s Cathedral Webcam.  

The webcam can be accessed through the Armagh Parish Website at www.armaghparish.net/cathedral-webcam

The video can be tuned into at those times by anyone who wishes to learn more about the synod and to take time to reflect on the questions posed.  It lasts approximately 45 minutes and can be used by individuals, family groups, parish groups and indeed any group or organisation who wants to be involved. 

 The video can also be accessible through YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch/S3scX2xCX0Y and many other resources for the synod can be found on www.armaghprays.com

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Finally, our Pastoral Area, St. Colmcille’s (The parishes of Clogherhead, Monasterboice, Termonfechin and Togher), all have the chance to gather – in person – at The Forge, Drumshallon on Wednesday 23rd February, 2022 at 8pm – to participate in a consultative process. All Welcome.

In this sense, it is clear that the purpose of this Synod is not to produce more documents. Rather, it is intended to inspire people to dream about the Church we are called to be, to make people’s hopes flourish, to stimulate trust, to bind up wounds, to weave new and deeper relationships, to learn from one another, to build bridges, to enlighten minds, warm hearts, and restore strength to our hands for our common mission (PD, 32). Thus the objective of this Synodal Process is not only a series of exercises that start and stop, but rather a journey of growing authentically towards the communion and mission that God calls the Church to live out in the third millennium.  This journey together will call on us to renew our mentalities and our ecclesial structures in order to live out God’s call for the Church amid the present signs of the times. Listening to the entire People of God will help the Church to make pastoral decisions that correspond as closely as possible to God’s will (ITC, Syn., 68) The ultimate perspective to orient this synodal path of the Church is to serve the dialogue of God with humanity (DV, 2) and to journey together the kingdom of God (cf. LG, 9; RM, 20). In the end, this Synodal Process seeks to move towards a Church that is more fruitfully at the service of the coming of the kingdom of heaven. 

https://www.synod.va/content/dam/synod/document/common/vademecum/Vademecum-EN-A4.pdf
The Synod Logo

The Prayer for The Synod

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Swapping Pulpits

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.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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. 

Photo by Tara Winstead on Pexels.com

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.

The Shape of Parish – Week 4

The Shape of Parish: What are your thoughts on What it means to be Church, and how we might better be ‘God’s people’, & build The Kingdom in these post-pandemic times.

Quotes from a chapter in a new book released ‘Maynooth College Reflects on Covid-19: New Realities in Uncertain Times’ (Feb 2021, Messenger Publications) include;

“The evolution of the kind of Church envisaged by Pope Francis in what has been described as his ‘manifesto’ of 2013 Evangelii Gaudium (quoted here in the Bulletin of 18th April), is a demanding yet, exciting task”… 

“It is as if some new seeds planted have been germinating in the dark of lockdown, and may yet produce fresh fruit of authentically faithful living”. 

“Is it possible that the ‘lay involvement; which has been genuinely desired by many pastoral leaders for years was perceived by most laity to be beyond their range? … Our experience is of parishioners taking a step along the way from being fed and led to a readiness to feed and lead”.

Fr. Paddy would like to offer an opportunity for parishioners to engage about what it might mean to come back to Mass, & what effects the Covid pandemic might have.

Join a Zoom discussion on ‘The Shape of Parish’
on Sunday 9th May at 4pm. 
Meeting ID: 815 5300 7905   Password: 760947 

All welcome.

The Shape of Parish – week 3

Amazingly after many decades of Catholic education, there are still many parishioners who struggle to know what their faith says about a particular topic, and to understand it. This is especially true about topics such as Sexuality and Morality.  While there are a huge number of resources available for faith formation individually, or as a family, we must be careful to avoid extremes, and follow only reliable sources; 

Thomas Groome is a world-renowned authority on religious education, in his book, “What makes us Catholic” he asks Who do we think we are? In what will we invest? What is our heart’s desire? The answers to these & five other basic questions, for Groome, are “gifts for life”.

He goes further – saying that while the Church provides a space where we are nourished and guided, prayed with and prayed for, encouraged and corrected, it needs to examine whether its purpose and mission are being fully realized. According to Groome, “Religion that does not nurture people’s spirituality is as dead as a doornail” (p. 273).

As we prepare, Fr. Paddy would like to offer an opportunity for parishioners to engage about what it might mean to come back to Mass, & what effects the  Covid pandemic might have. Fr. Paddy will lead a Zoom Meeting on ‘The Shape of Parish’ on Sunday 9th May at 4pm. 

More details next week.

The Shape of Parish – week 2

The Shape of Parish: As we prepare for returning to public worship, Fr. Paddy would like to offer an opportunity for parishioners to engage about what it might mean to come back to Mass, and what effects the Covid pandemic might have as we go froward. 

The recently retired Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin spoke about the future of the Irish Church ten years ago at a conference in Cambridge; His speaking notes can be accessed here;

These words are very relevant – even 10 years into the future; He said;

“the Church in Ireland is facing a real crisis…”;

“The abuse scandal has deeply wounded the trust that Irish people had in the Church and it will take much effort to regain the confidence of many, right across the generations…”;

“The Catholic Church in Ireland will inevitably become more a minority culture. The challenge is to ensure that it is not an irrelevant minority culture…”; 

What are your thoughts on what it means to be Church?, and how we might better be ‘God’s people’, and build The Kingdom in these post-pandemic times?

More next week.