Recently, at the end of a Sunday Angelus, the Holy Father announced that the upcoming 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be held in two ‘moments’, that is, in two sessions, spaced one year apart: the first from October 4 to 29, 2023, the second in October 2024.
This decision stems from the desire that the theme of a Synodal Church, because of its breadth and importance, might be the subject of prolonged discernment not only by the members of the Synodal Assembly, but by the whole Church.
This listening process began in 2021 by the local Churches, that is, by the People of God gathered around their Pastors, and has culminated in the release of The Document for the Continental Stage (DCS), which is the fruit of the ‘Syntheses’ (listening & reflecting) resulting from the consultation of the People of God in the first phase of the synodal process – and which will be the focus of the listening, dialogue and discernment of the Continental Synodal Assemblies (which will be held between January-March 2023).
There will be a Diocesan Gathering in the Carrickdale Hotel on Thursday December 1st to discuss this document and provide feedback which will inform the national input at the Continental Ecclesial Assembly that will take place in Prague from the 5th to the 12th of February, 2023. Please contact the Parish Office is you would like to attend this meeting.
It calls for a major change in the Church’s attitude to women, the LGBTQ+ Community, those married, divorced and single parents. It also recommends the removal of mandatory celibacy for priests.
Some thought the bishop would fudge it, not so. In his covering letter, Archbishop Martin of Armagh said, “Our listening process has identified the need for a more inclusive outreach, reaching out to those who have left the Church behind and in some cases feel excluded, forgotten or ignored”. It’s really worth a read.
Some have expressed disappointment that important issues outside the Church structures barely got a mention. Social justice, care for the poor, care for the earth etc.
We of course need to provide new structures of lay leadership and inclusion. We need to prepare for a lay-led parish, or at the least, more lay involvement in leadership. We need to prepare new leaders especially among the young but, it all has to be based on personal transformation, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and renewal based on the Gospel.
One possible way forward is to use The Alpha Experience – a wonderful introduction to Jesus Christ, and his mission to save our world. We will be running the Alpha Programme in the Pastoral Areasome time later this year. However, before then…
Alpha Ireland: Conference for those interested in making MORE of Parish – will be held in St Catherine’s Church, Dublin 8 on Saturday 24 Sept 2022. See the full lineup on our website https://alphaireland.org/multiply Our theme for AIC22 is Multiply as we bring together the best minds in mission to offer a one-day bootcamp of mission. Come together to be inspired, encouraged and equipped for evangelisation. Tickets are just €25 pp (Parish will sponsor these if you are interested) We would love to see you there!
Contact Fr. Paddy or The Parish Office for more information.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Fr. Paddy is asking you to consider joining him in taking on this course. It will be good for anyone, but especially for those who – as he says in this video – have found themselves drifting away from the Church, or disillusioned by it or the scandals, or if you simply dont know what faith teaches.
Would you consider spending 11 Tuesday evenings investing your time in exploring how Faith can relate to your life in normal but powerful ways? This can happen online from the comfort of your own home for just 1 hour each night
What is it? The Alpha Course is a friendly, engaging, non-judgemental approach to exploring the ‘big’ questions of life from a Christian standpoint. Why are we here? Does God really guide us? Where does Faith and Prayer fit in? Why is there Evil in the World?
Who is it for? It can be for those who are already heavily involved in their Parish of for those who would like to be involved or more involved. Whatever about involvement, it certainly is for those who are seeking and searching for deeper meaning in life which can easily relate to Life to Faith.
What can I expect? 25 Minutes of a thought provoking DVD followed by group discussion with a facilitator. This Course is not a heavy learning session but about reacting to the clip you’ve seen and sharing your thoughts.
For the first time, this Alpha is being run on a Nationwide basis with each parish having its own small group of 7 to 8 people.
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 AreaResource 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.
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
The Diocesan Website for the process can be accessed here;
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 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
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.