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.

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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. 

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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.

Closing of Year of Reflection & Prayer and Commissioning of Diocesan Synodal Core Group

On Behalf of Bishop Michael…

Thank you to the priests, religious and parishes who responded to the invitation to attend the ceremony in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, on Wednesday 30th June, or who watched it online.

The homily, in particular, provides information on the nature of the Synodal Pathway that we are undertaking at a diocesan, national and international level. It is important that when the conversation and consultation begins in every parish and religious community, people will be informed and up to date.

We will have a listening process in the diocese over the next two years in preparation for the Diocesan Assembly in 2024, but parallel to that there will be a consultation in the coming months for the Synod in Rome in 2023 and over the next few years for the National Assembly or Assemblies in 2026.

Full Closing Ceremony

Homily

The Diocesan Website for the process can be accessed here;

St. Colmcille’s 1500th Anniversary

Pastoral Area: Along with Termonfechin (Fr Paul Byrne 98 22121), Clogherhead (Fr Martin McVeigh 98 22224), & Togher (Monsignor Jim Carroll 98  89335), our Parish is part of the St. Colmcille’s Pastoral Area.  

Wednesday 9th June was the feast of Saint Columcille and this year is a very special day, in that it will be 1500 years since the Saint’s birth in 521AD. There are three patrons of Ireland, St Patrick, St Brigid & St Colum Cille who was born in Donegal from the powerful O’Neill clan. His original name was Crimthann. ‘Crimthann’ meant Fox, possibly because he was red-haired. Sometimes he is referred to as Columba, which is the Latin for Dove.

A young Colmcille entered the priesthood at the age of 20 when he became a pupil at Clonard Abbey, situated on the River Boyne in modern day Co. Meath.Colmcille founded some 30 monasteries in just 10 years, inspiring many people with his personal holiness. As a result of a dispoute in 563, he was banished from Ireland by the High King, He settled on a bleak Scottish island called Iona where he would spent most of his remaining years. Colmcille spent the rest of his life on Iona praying, fasting, and teaching his monks to read and copy the Scriptures. He was a renowned ‘man of letters’, wrote several hymns and has been credited with having transcribed over 300 books and manuscripts.

Numerous Catholic schools and parishes are under the patronage of the Irish saint, with Church of Scotland, Evangelical Lutheran and Episcopal Churches also have parishes dedicated to him – showing the strength of his legacy.

Iona and St Columcille: Iona is a tiny beautiful Hebridean island off the west coast of Scotland, cradle of Christianity in Scotland, where in 563AD the Irish monk Columba (Columkille) established a monastic settlement that evangelised large parts of Scotland & the north of England and became an important centre of European Christianity. In the Middle Ages it became the site of a Benedictine abbey, & over the centuries it has attracted thousands of people on their own pilgrim journeys. visit www.iona.org.uk

As a Pastoral Area, we celebrated this occasion with an evening Mass in the Church of Saint Columcille Togher @ 8pm on Wednesday 9th June. Celebrant was Fr Paul Byrne V.F.

Each parish will took responsibility for the ceremony as follows:
Welcome and Co-ordination: Togher parish;
Music & song: Termonfechin parish;
Scripture Readings: Clogherhead parish;
Prayers of the Faithful: Monasterboice parish;

We appreciate the work of the Pastoral Council members in all our parishes, and we look forward to what might be happening throughout the rest of this year.

St Columcille, pray for us!     Launch out into the deep Luke 5:4

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.