- Homily of Bishop Fintan Monahan for Mass of Chrism (see below statement)
24 lay people have been commissioned to serve in the Diocese of Killaloe in the Ministries of Pastoral Care, and Catechetics/Faith Development. The commissioning took place yesterday in the Cathedral of Saints Peter & Paul, Ennis, Co Clare, at the annual Mass of the Chrism, an occasion that traditionally celebrates the renewal of commitment by the priests of the diocese. At the Mass, Bishop Fintan Monahan formally commissioned 24 new ministers – women and men – who will minister in parishes and pastoral areas right across the Killaloe diocese.
Bishop Monahan said, “I wish to thank everyone who has come forward to volunteer and train to become Ministers of Pastoral Care, and Ministers of Catechetics/Faith Development. Your generosity and gifts are a rich blessing to the body of Christ. These new ministries are part of a diocesan response to the changing face of the Church in recent times, and this includes fewer priests. Whereas once there was at least one priest in every parish, now many parishes have no resident priest, rather they are served by the priests of the local pastoral area. In the future, in our diocese, parishes will be served by a team of priests and lay ministers working together to meet local pastoral needs. Some roles traditionally undertaken by priests will in future be carried out by the new lay ministers.”
Bishop Monahan continued, “in developing the new ministries, the diocese identified the need for Pastoral Care and for Faith Development as crucial. It is envisaged that the new Pastoral Care Ministers will take on roles such as visiting sick or elderly people at home, in a nursing home or in hospital setting, having a concern for those who are isolated or on their own in the community, supporting people and families at the time of a funeral and bereavement as well as offering sensitive care at other critical times on life’s journey.”
In 2018, the diocese launched this initiative and advertised for volunteers for two new ministries of Pastoral Care and Catechetics/Faith Development. There was a very positive response to this initiative. As a result the 24 people commissioned have undertaken a process of training and formation including a specially developed academic programme of theology and pastoral studies at the Institute of Pastoral Studies in Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. They new ministers have also received training in skills necessary for ministry and have been involved in placements in their respective roles of pastoral care and faith development.
It is envisaged that those commissioned as Catechists will take on roles in faith development, for example, engaging with and accompanying parents whose children are preparing for sacraments, supporting programmes such as Faith Friends, Do This in Memory or You Shall Be My Witnesses, and supporting people who wish to explore their own faith of spirituality.
Homily of Bishop Monahan for Chrism Mass and the commissioning of 24 New Ministers (Catechist and Pastoral Care) on Wednesday 13 April 2022
On Sunday last, Palm Sunday, I was listening to the weekly homily of the great evangelist Bishop Robert Barron. He quoted the verse on a prayer card of a newly ordained priest. The verse was taken from the Gospel of the day which simply read “The Master has need of it”.
The reference was to the words offered to the person who owned the donkey or the colt that was taken by the disciples on Palm Sunday for the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.
“The Master has need of it”…
Bishop Barron went on to explain that these words are a good blue-print for ministry or indeed anyone intent on living out the imprint of her or his baptismal calling.
“The Master has need of it”…
In further research on Palm Sunday I came across the idea that the symbol of the colt or donkey was also helpful for understanding ministry. The symbol of riding on a horse in Eastern culture is associated with royalty and symbolises combat, warfare, conflict, being strident with an air of arrogance. However, the symbol of riding on a colt or donkey different. In contrast, it signifies coming with peace, a symbol of friendship, bearing good tidings, bringing news that is not a threat, one that brings a smile, happiness and joy with it.
As the priests of the diocese renew their commitment to ministry in this annual Chrism Mass and as 24 New Ministers are being commissioned in the area of Catechesis and Pastoral Care those words, “The Master has need of it” and the symbol of the ordinariness and imperfection of the donkey, speak volumes.
What we are doing, in offering ourselves for ministry in response to a call is not bringing ourselves – but Jesus Christ to those to whom we minister. We may have our own skills and talents but what we are called to bring is the Good News of Jesus Christ. “The Master has need of it”.
When we have established that as our starting point we then gladly present our humble skills and talents, along with our weakness and shortcomings and offer them as a gift to the Lord and the local Church in which we serve.
Appreciation of the Work of Clergy
I sincerely thank the priests of the diocese for their ongoing commitment and dedication to ministry and wish them continued blessings in their great work. I congratulate our jubilarians on this special occasion.
Welcome and Congratulation to New Ministers
I welcome and congratulate with great delight and joy, the 24 New Ministers, 12 in the area of Catechetics and 12 in the area of Pastoral Care. You have responded most generously to the invitation sent out from the diocese four years ago to come forth and minister in your chosen areas in which you have an interest, talent and expertise. You have applied yourself with diligence, dedication and hard work in prayer, discernment and study with the assistance of Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, and in your pastoral assignments in your native areas. You are now warmly welcome in your new role to assist, lead and minister among the faith family of the diocese of Killaloe!
Appreciation for the support of Families
Many thanks to your families, present today, who have kindly and with great understanding, patience and sacrifice facilitated all this to happen.
In a few moments you will be commissioned in that new ministry. Later this year, integral to the annual Summer appointments, you will receive a named or specific appointment in your parish, pastoral area or perhaps at diocesan level, whichever is appropriate. A little bit of work still needs to be done to finalise that, in dialogue with clergy and laity, prudently matching the needs of the pastoral areas and the skills of the New Ministers. Every good wish and blessing in this exciting new role, the voluntary ministry of service in the twin areas of service in Catechesis and Pastoral Care.
At the beginning of this Spring month of new shoots, fresh growth and buds bursting with growth and energy we marked April fools day. I often reflect on the words of Saint Paul, his expression that our belief is folly to the Greeks and a stumbling block to the Jews (1 Cor 1:23). In that he encourages us to literally be fools for Christ sake!
G K Chesterton in reflecting on the donkey of Palm Sunday reflects:
Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet;
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.
That hour has at last come for the new ministers and it continues unabated in ongoing service for the priests.
“Cometh the hour. Cometh the man”.
In the gospel of Saint John we read “But the hour cometh and now is…” (John 4:23).
In responding to that we shall not be found wanting.
For : “The Master has need of it”…
The donkey or colt is untethered. We as priests and New Ministers are ready for work. Bring it on!
- Bishop Fintan Monahan is Bishop of Killaloe. The diocese consists of 58 parishes and includes parts of the counties of Clare, Tipperary, Offaly, Limerick and Laois. This Mass was celebrated by Bishop Monahan in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, Ennis, on 13 April 2022.
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