Bishop announces Diocesan Forum for Ossory

23 Apr 2004


23 APRIL 2004

Embargoed until 12.00 midnight on 24th April 2004


The Bishop of Ossory, Dr Laurence Forristal, has today announced the setting up
of a Diocesan Forum for the priests, religious and laity of the Diocese of Ossory.
The idea of establishing a Diocesan Forum came from consultation with the priests
of the diocese during 1999 and 2000. The Forum has been in the planning stage
since then and it is now hoped that it will provide a vehicle wherein the bishop,
priests, religious and laity can address the issues of the day and plan for the

To implement the initiative a Forum Steering Committee was put in place to design
and carry out a consultation process throughout the diocese. Listeners were trained
and sent out to listen to the concerns of the people at organised focus groups
throughout the diocese. These focus groups concerned themselves with two questions:
“What are the things in life that are concerning you most right now?” and “What
are your hopes and expectations of the Church?”
At the same time a letter from
Bishop Forristal was sent to each house in the diocese inviting responses to these

The response was comprehensive: 129 letters, 32 telephone calls and e-mails and 48
reports from the wide variety of focus groups. Reports were received from PTAA
members, home makers, parents of young children, parents of children with special
needs, mothers of teenagers, women working outside the home, men in the 40 – 65
age group, GAA members, second and third level students, priests, religious, people
with disabilities, members of the travelling community, new residents to parishes,
recovering addicts, carers, teachers and young single farmers etc.

Among the responses were concerns about the erosion of a sense of morality in today’s
society, consumerism, violence and discrimination and the lack of particular facilities.
Respondents also expressed concern about Church leadership, liturgical practice,
scandals relating to child abuse, vocations to the priesthood and religious life
and the role of women in the Church. Looking to the future people said their hope
is for an “open and listening Church” which “will truly be the people of God”, a
Church “which will speak out clearly on important issues of the day”.

In a letter to every home in the diocese, distributed through the parishes this
weekend, Bishop Forristal says: “It is clear from the responses that you are more
than anxious to be involved in addressing the concerns of the Church today. The
setting up of a Diocesan Forum, where everybody can concern themselves with the
life of the diocese, is a practical way of letting your voices be heard. This
Forum should be a reality by the end of the year.”

Open meetings have been arranged for groups of neighbouring parishes at nine venues
throughout the diocese during the first week of May. These will give people a flavour
of the responses to the consultation, present a proposed model of the Forum and hear
people’s responses and suggestions about this. In light of the responses to the
proposed model of the Forum, the Steering Committee will finalise the structure of
the Forum. Further Cluster Meetings will be arranged in each area at which people
will be invited to elect representatives to the Forum. The Forum will begin its
work later this year.

Welcoming the initiative Bishop Forristal said “With God’s help, may we work together
to discover ‘the best way of establishing the Kingdom of God in Ossory in these
challenging years of the Third Millennium.”


Further information:
Ms Brenda Drumm Communications Officer (087 233 7797)
Dónal O’Hanlon (056 772 2469 / 772 5340)
Ann Marie Duncan (056 772 9257)
Fr Dan Bollard (087 664 4858)

Notes to Editors:
* A photograph of Bishop Forristal is available on request from the Catholic
Communications Office.
* The listing of dates and venues for the Cluster Meetings in May is also available.