Shaping the Future with Hope – Pastoral Letter

    Shaping the Future with Hope
    Pastoral Letter about our Diocesan Assembly
    9th & 10th MAY 2020
    Two years ago I wrote a pastoral letter entitled “Sustaining our
    Faith Community in the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois”.
    It alerted people to the profound changes that are coming to
    our parishes and to the practice of faith.
    In that letter I wrote “…consideration needs to be given to
    developing and enabling parish faith development and pastoral
    care to continue and to flourish with fewer priests and with
    greater involvement of parishioners”. This is about reimagining
    how we worship and pass on our Christian faith. Part of that
    reimagining will take place in the preparation for and as a
    result of a Diocesan Assembly. It will be held on the 9th and
    10th May 2020. Its theme is ‘Shaping the future with hope’.

    Stage one is about listening. It involves the selection of
    delegates from each parish. The delegates will be identified
    this summer and will have three training sessions in advance of
    the Assembly to familiarise themselves with the process and
    the themes. They will help in the establishment of focus groups
    to listen to parishioners and other groups throughout the
    diocese. Each focus group will have a trained facilitator. I’m sure
    that people will have lots to say, what is said is important.
    From that experience of listening will emerge key themes.
    Stage two is about discussing and prioritising. The themes
    emerging from the focus groups will be considered at a two day Assembly on 9th and 10th May 2020. The delegates from each
    parish, clergy and religious will consider and shape priorities.
    Stage three is about planning. A plan will be drawn up based
    on the findings of the Assembly – a plan for the future, a roadmap
    of what we should do to address current concerns and move
    forward. This will be practical and achievable and based on the
    key themes and priorities emerging from the process.
    The preparations have already begun with the establishment of
    a Steering Committee and the engagement of a facilitator.
    It is important that as many people as possible are engaged in
    the listening and planning opportunities that will emerge at local
    level in parishes. To that end please contact your Parish Pastoral
    Council or send your message to [email protected].
    I think it is a vital development and a very exciting one. I ask
    people of all ages and of all experiences of faith, and there are
    many, to engage in this process and also I ask that you pray for
    this initiative. An Assembly Prayer has been composed asking
    the Holy Spirit to enthuse, energise, encourage and strengthen
    our hope as we make this journey together.
    Over the next year we turn to our roots, to the people and
    the communities that have cherished and promoted the faith,
    that have challenged the faith, that have grown indifferent or
    disappointed and angry with the faith and the way it is
    promoted. We turn to listen, to learn and to ‘shape the future
    with hope’, to plan the way forward, a pilgrim way forward, a
    way that is laid out for us guided by the Holy Spirit.
    Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois

    For PDF of Pastoral Letter, press the following Link.
    Pentecost Sunday, 9th June 2019