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’.
A DIOCESAN ASSEMBLY IS A YEARLONG PROCESS IN THREE
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.