News archive 2008

Travellers to play greater role in Dublin Parish life

PRESS RELEASE
4 December 2008

Travellers to play greater role in Dublin Parish life

The Parish of the Travelling People (PTP) in the Archdiocese of Dublin is today launching a range of initiatives to help Travellers play a greater role in the life of their local parish. It is also asking Dublin’s 200 parishes to make a special effort to be welcoming and inclusive of Travellers in their parish life and activities. The launch comes in the middle of Traveller Focus Week. 

The Parish has published a new four year plan, “Travelling Towards Inclusion” to promote intercultural dialogue, as a means to facilitating mutual understanding and establishing greater Traveller representation and involvement in local parish life.

The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Diarmuid Martin launched the new proposals at Mass in Dublin’s Pro Cathedral today (Thursday 11am). Key among them is the setting up of a two-year pilot project in Deansrath Parish in Clondalkin to facilitate and encourage dialogue between local settled and Traveller parishioners.

In his homily Archbishop Martin said, “This morning we celebrate with the Parish of the Travelling People as they launch an initiative “Travelling towards inclusion”.  The travelling people are our brothers and sisters.  The Parish of the Travelling People provides specific services to them, but they belong in all our parishes, wherever they live at the time. They have their own traditions and identity and they have every right to keep those traditions whether they live, whether in a settled context or still travel as they ancestors have done.”

He added, “Traveller children are children of talent and opportunity, of dreams and hope just like your children or my nieces and nephews.  A society of inclusion will rejoice at their talents and at their diversity and be happy for them to be part of our communities.”

The Parish of the Travelling People was established almost 30 years ago to minister to the particular needs of the Traveller community across Dublin.  Concern for social justice remains central to the mission and work of the parish, which is implemented by the Parish Team and Parish Pastoral Council, each made up of Traveller and settled people.

Over the past year, the PTP consulted widely with parishes and Travellers in the Dublin Archdiocese. The research indicated that for most Travellers, belief in God and in their Catholic faith is a vital part of their daily lives. Travellers also said that while they have valued the particular ministry of the PTP, they want to be able to access pastoral services in local parishes where they live. In addition, the research sought to assess the level of representation and involvement of Travellers in local parish life, and found this to be very low.

Fr. Derek Farrell, Parish Priest of the Parish of the Travelling People said,   “It is clear from our research that Travellers appreciate the support and care of the Parish of the Travelling People through the years, and still today.  However, Travellers want to feel welcome and a sense of belonging in their local parish, where they are living, and may well have lived for many years. They want their identity and culture as Travellers to be recognised and valued in local parish life. While the research shows the level of Traveller representation and involvement in local parish groups and ministries as extremely low, the Parish of the Travelling People is aiming, with the support of the Diocese and goodwill at local parish level, to significantly improve on this during the lifetime of this four year initiative.”

He said he was fully aware of the challenges that lay ahead in this process but he was hopeful that it could result in a situation where local Travellers feel truly welcomed and at home in their local parish, and where the local parish in turn would be enriched and enlivened by the faith and giftedness of Travellers in their community.

The recommendations in the four year plan include:
The pilot parish project in Deansrath, Clondalkin is to work towards being a model of best practice for other parishes on how to develop good pastoral relationships with Travellers. That process begins this week.

The Parish of the Travelling People is to increase its emphasis on developing strategies and supports to local parishes to help them understand the particular faith traditions and needs of the Traveller community.

Dublin Parishes and existing Diocesan Structures will facilitate the development of an inclusive approach to dialogue, faith sharing and collaboration with Travellers.

ENDS

Further information:
Fr. Derek Farrell, PP, parish of the Travelling People 087 257 3857
Annette O Donnell, Dublin Archdiocese Communications Office 8360723
Full text of Archbishop Martin’s homily is available at www.dublindiocese.ie
Photographs of the Mass will be available this afternoon. Please contact Communications office.
Communications Office 01 8360723, email communications@dublindiocese.ie,  web www.dublindiocese.ie, mobile 087 8143462

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