9 May 2008
Bishop Jones encourages deacons and Parish Catechists through Pentecost Letter
In his second Pentecost letter Bishop Jones notes the huge evolution of the Irish Church in recent years. “If one were to list all the persons in our diocese who contribute to Church activities, the list would contain several thousand names. This is a great sign of the vitality of our diocese.”
Bishop Jones comments on contemporary challenges facing parishioners and parishes. “As baptised people with the Spirit of God at work in us we face the challenges that confront us with confidence and enthusiasm. The work of transforming family and community life through the Gospel is ours.
“Certain challenges however need more than goodwill. They call for systematic planning and investment in persons and by persons who will exercise a service of leadership, support and encouragement. In light of this, and following consultation with priests and our Diocesan Pastoral Council, I propose to reintroduce the permanent diaconate and to invite parishes to encourage women and men to train as Parish Catechists.”
In his Pastoral Letter, Bishop Jones praises the ongoing contribution of priests and religious to the pastoral life of the diocese, including retired priests and sisters. Bishop Jones also thanks the support of families through their generosity to the parish community in education, community development and in the evolution of social services.
“The ministry of deacons will complement and not replace the many services exercised by lay people” states Bishop Jones. He also notes the restriction of the permanent diaconate to men as, “a source of disappointment to some women and men. I hope however that we will recognise the potential the permanent diaconate represents for the good of the Church.”
Bishop Jones also refers to the reality that tomorrow’s parishes will have need of qualified catechists. Parishes, he suggests, need to complement the efforts of families and Catholic schools in bringing young people to a sustaining faith and to support adults deepen their faith. “We have much to benefit from having suitably trained persons. Such persons, known abroad as Parish Catechists, frequently contribute by organising and facilitating short programmes that fan the flame of faith that burns in each of us.”
Bishop Jones says in his Pastoral Letter that the experience shows from other countries “that Parish Catechists contribute very positively to developing a sense of Christian community within parishes.”
Notes for Editors
In December 2006 the Irish bishops published The Permanent Diaconate – National Directory and Norms for Ireland. Please see under “Bishops’ Conference pastoral letters and other publications” on www.catholiccommunciations.ie.
Today there are in excess of 15,000 deacons in the Catholic Church, including Britain, mainland Europe and the USA. These men, many of whom hold down jobs to support their families, have three areas of responsibility: the liturgy, the service of the Gospel and works of charity.
In terms of the liturgy, deacons are involved in helping people prepare to receive all the sacraments. They can also officiate at baptisms, bless marriages, preside at funerals and lead prayer services. In terms of serving the Gospel they are expected to read and pray with Sacred Scripture every day and to commit themselves to on-going study, particularly by way of becoming skilled preachers. Deacons are also expected to be devoted to works of charity and to the functions of administration that accompany the on-going work of the Church.
Martin Long, Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Kathy Tynan, Communications Officer (086 817 5674)