- People who have come to know Christ deeply, as He reveals Himself in Word and Sacrament, will be able to proclaim Him effectively to others. Our Plan proposes a renewal of faith formation across the ages with an emphasis on children and young adults.
- The future decline in the number of priests is a big worry for many people as they worry about the effects of this on their own parishes.
At 7.00pm Mass on 31 March, in the Cathedral of Saint Eunan and Saint Columba in the heart of Letterkenny, Bishop Alan McGuckian SJ launched ‘Forward Together/Ar Aghaidh le Chéile’ a new Pastoral Plan for the Diocese of Raphoe for the years 2022 – 2024.
A small group of priests, religious and lay faithful under the chairmanship of Father Michael McKeever have been working on the plan throughout the pandemic. With the support and facilitation of Jim Deeds, the group presented a draft document to Bishop McGuckian during the summer of 2021.
Bishop McGuckian recommended the plan to the diocese with the conviction that it will foster a truly synodal spirit of cooperation between priests and people in the parishes and across the diocese.
At the launch, Bishop McGuckian pointed to three different dimensions under the headings of Structure, Mission and Planning.
The Bishop of Raphoe said, “A key element in the structure of a synodal church will be well-formed Parish Pastoral Councils. For that reason a priority for us in this first year will be the training and formation – or the renewal – of effective Parish Pastoral Councils in as many parishes as possible. As bishop I have relied greatly on the support and hard work of our interim Diocesan Pastoral Council to bring the plan to this point. I can see what a gift a good Pastoral Council can be.”
“It is essential for the missionary outreach of the diocese that we form ourselves in a deep knowledge of the Faith. Only people who have come to know Christ deeply as he reveals himself in Word and Sacrament will be able to proclaim Him effectively to others. Our Plan proposes a renewal of faith formation across the ages with an emphasis on children and young adults.”
Bishop McGuckian continued, “As regards our planning for the future, the Plan will involve a serious review of the whole diocese on the basis of which we will have to discern how best to proceed into the future. We will want to do that in a prayerful, discerning way, with our full emphasis on identifying the future into which God is calling us. The future decline in the number of priests is a big worry for many people as they worry about the effects of this on their own parishes. We will have to face into the realities as we find them with hope in God and an openness to His will. It is important that we are open to change and that people know that they are key to the process. The formation of Parish Pastoral Councils, and other councils, will be central to this.
Plans are not made to sit on shelves and with that in mind the bishop pointed out that there is already a date in the diary for the parishes of the western deanery to come together and begin working towards the formation of new Parish Pastoral Councils. The emphasis in the Plan on faith formation for young people is reflected in the current series of ‘Prayer and Praise’ night-time gatherings organised by Connor Duncan in the Diocesan Pastoral Centre.
Bishop McGuckian concluded, “The Plan is only a start and I invite all parishioners to reflect deeply on it, and to ask yourself what the Lord is saying to you in it and then to be charitably stubborn in your insistence so that all of us will work with the Plan and put it into effect”.
- Bishop Alan McGuckian SJ is the Bishop of Raphoe
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