Read about plans to consult parishes in September 2010 about how and why our 56 parishes in K&L could be grouped in the future.  Maps available for download.

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Message from Msgr. Brendan Byrne

Diocesan Administrator

Greetings ‐ after the resignation of Bishop Moriarty was accepted at the end of April, I was appointed to serve in the temporary office of ‘diocesan administrator’ while we await the appointment of a new Bishop.

There are a number of important items that I want to bring to people’s attention at this time and hence this newsletter. As you will see all these items concern how we discuss issues together as a church and the challenge of creating new structures to enable, in the words of Bishop Moriarty in the Vatican, ‘a deeper sharing of the mission that transcends the kind of clerical culture that led us here’.

I want to commend all those who helped organise and those who participated in the recent open meetings following the Papal letter. Likewise I thank parishes for their submissions on the question of Episcopal succession and the needs of the diocese.  It is clear that people want this level of dialogue to continue.

During 2009, the priests of our diocese spent time addressing the question of how our 56 parishes are grouped together now and how they might group together in the future. 17 parishes already have direct experience of new and closer relationships in 8 clusters in recent years.

As a diocese we need to begin a full consultation on the possible options facing us. You will find more details about our plans on the back page (below). I encourage everyone to play their part. Together we are the Church.

As always, we ask the Lord to guide our steps and to unite us in his love.

Diocesan Meetings on Papal Letter

In March this year Pope Benedict XVI wrote a letter to Irish Catholics on the issue of child abuse by church members, particularly priests and religious. Addressing the survivors and their families, the Holy Father said ‘You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry.’

Addressing all the faithful, the Holy Father said ‘a new vision is needed, to inspire present and future generations to treasure the gift of our common faith’. This call was the inspiration for a series of open meetings held in Portarlington, Carlow, Goresbridge, Naas and Killeigh.

At those meetings, along with a summary of the Papal letter, a presentation was given on present day diocesan policies and procedures in regard to safeguarding children and the K&L return to the recent HSE audit.

Two reports are available from those meetings – an overall one page summary and a fuller listing of comments from each meeting. Both reports, the Papal letter and safeguarding information are available on our diocesan website – www.kandle.ie

New vision – We are the Church

In brief, these reports record that people were glad to have the opportunity to discuss these matters together were disappointed that these meetings were not better publicized in all parishes. This dialogue needs to continue. People said it was good to hear that safeguarding policies and procedures are in place and information re HSE audit openly shared.

There was praise that Bishop Moriarty did the right thing and that his legacy may be an inspiration for each of to challenge the prevailing culture.

In regard to the ‘new vision’, a lot of comments strongly expressed the belief that ‘we are the church’ but that we need new structures and training to enable lay people, especially women, live out that vision.

Parish Consultation on Episcopal Succession

Following the resignation of Bishop Moriarty, we are awaiting the appointment of a new Bishop. The Papal Nuncio plays a key role in this process by consulting priests, religious and lay people about the –

  • Present situation in the diocese
  • Needs of the Diocese
  • Qualities hoped for in the new Bishop

The Nuncio will – after consultation – draws up in private a list of suitable candidates. This list, along with all the submissions, is forwarded by the Nuncio to the Congregation for Bishops in Rome where the final decision is made. There is no set timescale for the final decision.

As part of the agreed overall consultation process, Mgsr. Brendan Byrne, as diocesan administrator, recently invited parishes to make a submission. The various contributions received were collated into one report and forwarded to the Nuncio. The full report is available on www.kandle.ie

Parish submissions

In brief, there was strong affirmation of pastoral initiatives and on‐going programmes in the diocese – including our sacramental preparation, Reach Out programme, youth ministry, Faith Development Services. However there is a lack of diocesan identity and we need better communication. People are aware of the aging and diminishing number of clergy and recognise we need more lay involvement along with support for priests.

A primary need is to evangelize, in other words to spread the Good News and help people connect with faith and Church. Our parishes need to network, to share resources and good practice. We need training and education for paid and voluntary ministry.  To achieve this, we need on‐going dialogue. People need to be consulted ahead of any changes to parish structures in light of fewer priests.

‘Sharing the Mission’

Our 56 parishes in K&L are grouped into seven deaneries. The deanery structure allows for a certain amount of local co‐operation. For example priests often meet in their deanery groups to discuss diocesan issues and make local arrangements for Christmas and Easter Confessions etc. There was an attempt in past years (not universally successful) to organise Deanery Pastoral Councils drawn from Parish Pastoral Councils. It is felt that our deaneries are perhaps too big for real partnership.

Over recent years, 8 ‘clusters’ involving 17 parishes have been created. A cluster is where two or more parishes are linked together under one Parish Priest. The cluster of Naas, Sallins and Two‐Mile‐House is an example. The individual parishes retain their own identity – it is not an amalgamation – but the priests based in the cluster share the duties of those parishes together. That is new.

Clusters were a response to having fewer priests. However priests themselves recognize the potential for a new level of partnership between neighbouring parishes that includes all ministries, services and resources. This could apply to all parishes. Two key questions are ‐ how big should these groupings be and which parishes go together?

September 2010 Meetings

Beginning in September, a series of open meetings will be held across the diocese to begin to address how and why our parishes could be grouped together in new ways. More details to follow in next diocesan newsletter. Check website – www.kandle.ie – for resources, maps etc. (see above)

Contact Details

Msgr. Brendan Byrne, Bishop’s House, Carlow.
brendan.byrne@kandle.ie