On Saturday 3rd May, Bishop Moriarty convened a forum of 100 people including priests of the diocese along with a cross-section of lay people and religious who are active in parish ministry and leadership.

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Presentations – Videos

The starting point for this forum was the Bishop’s Easter message in which he identified that –

Our shared task over the next four years will be to build up ministries and services at the local level and to encourage and support people as they come forward to serve the Church.

The purpose of the gathering was to discuss how best to direct and co-ordinate this shared task. It was understood that other wider gatherings would follow in due course.

To set the scene in more detail, Fr John Cummins (Cathedral Parish) presented an overview of various diocesan initiatives in the last five years beginning with the publication of the Diocesan Guide in 2003 and moving on to the diocesan Reach Out campaign. The abiding lesson of the latter campaign is that working together produces the best results.

Following Fr Cummins’ address, a video about the changing face of parish ministry in K&L was shown at the gathering. This video focused on Balyna Parish where the Parish team includes a lay Parish catechist and a lay Parish administrator.

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Next steps

In looking to the future, there is a very significant managerial task facing the diocese. In the next ten years, we will have to cope with the retirement of possibly 30 priests, leaving less than 60 K&L priests in full-time active ministry, while at the same time establishing new structures and services appropriate to these changing times. What remains unchanged is our primary mission to witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ.

As Fr Cummins commented –

The pastoral mission of the Church is not an option; it is something to which we are called and committed through our baptism. It is not the preserve of the clergy; it belongs to the whole Church. How we discern this mission, how we carry it out in the future – these are the tasks that now face us.

Discussion

In the discussion that followed, a number of key points were highlighted – that we need shared guidelines, a common vision in regard to future parish development, parish clustering, the training of lay ministers and our employment practices. We need to continue to invest energy and resources into the whole question of vocations and faith formation.

A report of the full feedback was subsequently compiled and has been passed to Bishop Moriarty.