Opening Address – Loughrea – Bishop Fintan Monahan
Together for Mission
A warm word of welcome to you all to our annual in-service here in Loughrea this evening.
The theme this year as you are aware is Together for Mission.
It came about as the fruit of much reflection over a series of meetings as the events of the Spring and Summer began to enfold.
What an eventful year this has been!
In terms of Church and issues that impinge on faith in general it has been a whirl-wind year.
- The AbortionReferendum in May.
- WMOF2018 in August.
- The visit of Pope Francis.
- The reopening of the issue of Safeguarding in the Church.
- The 5 Conversation evening we just held in the diocese recently helped to identify and clarify some of these issues. I have recently collated some of the issues and themes and they are available on the diocesan website and make interesting reading.
In Diocesan Terms it has been no less interesting and there have been huge changes. Just a reminder of what preparations were in place in the lead up to those changes.
- I had the opportunity to meet with you all individually in January of this year, a small number just before Christmas.
- We then had a meeting on March 20th in the Inn at Dromoland on models of priesthood and progressing the process of change that had been going on for a number of years.
- We then had a further meeting in the same venue to present the plan and receive general agreement to move ahead with the new model of team ministry on May day, the first day of Summer!
- The gathering of senior clergy on the 10th of May.
- The Diocesan Appointments happened in June with a major new shift to team ministry.
- In September we held information meetings on on the new ministries of Pastoral Care and Catechist.
- 5 Conversation evenings across the diocese in October, the final one last week on November 7th.
Here we are gathered as a presbyterate for the second in a sequence of what I would hope would be an annual gathering here for these few days.
Eamonn Fitzgibbon and Judith King
Welcome to our facilitators Eamonn Fitzgibbon whom you all know so well. Éamonn was delighted to return again this year! Welcome to Judith King from Donegal who is joining Eamonn this year. Judith is doing a PhD on the interesting topic of Pilgrimage. She has done a lot of facilitation work with diocese and congregations in the past and we are delighted to have her and Eamonn to keep us on the straight and narrow.
Fr. John Hughes OSA
Welcome to Fr. John Hughes, OSA, a native of County Mayo, vicar for clergy in the Dublin diocese for many years who will help us identify and tease out how we are feeling at this juncture – in tomorrow’s work.
Fr. Matthew Nunes
Fr. Matthew Nunes will join us from Manchester. Some of you may have heard Fr. Matthew speak in Thurles this August on the future of Parish. Fr. Matthew and his team have been trying to impliment the type of team ministry we have moved to for a number of years, so he will share some of his experience with us on Tuesday.
Priests from Kerala
Welcome to our 4 priests from Kerala who are with us as a unit of 4 for the first time this year, Rexon, Francis Xavier, Joy and Antony.
Fr. Dariusz has been with us for quite some time now and is regarded as one of our own at this stage!
Welcome to Fr. Lancelot McGrath from Limerick, based in America at present, awaiting a new appointment in the new year in his diocese of Meteuchen. He is filling in for Pat Malone who is away on a small break until the new year.
Fr. Fergal O’Neill
We remember Fr. Fergal O’Neill who annouced his departure this weekend in Ogonolloe. We thank him for his 10 years of so of service to the diocese and pray God’s blessing on him in his new way of life.
Fr. Anthony McMahon
We keep Anthony McMahon also in our prayers as he discerns on his year of leave of absence. He successfully completed the Camino recently and was back home in Ennis after that.
Antun Pasilic and Vincent O’Brien
Welcome to our seminarian Antun who is doing his pastoral year in Ennis and Maynooth this year. Our prayers and support are very much with you Antun. We keep Vincent O’Brien from Sixmilebridge in our thoughts and prayers who is doing the propaedeutic year in Valladolid at present.
Thanks to Retired Preists
We thank the many retired priests of the diocese who have volunteered to stay at home and mind the fort while we are here. Like last year, they will have their own couple of days in early Summer of next year.
Theme Together for Mission
The theme Together for Missionis a compendium of a lot of things we have been reflecting on over the past few years as we have been discerning change.
The emphasis is on two things.
- Being and doing together.
The other emphasis is on Mission. Pope Francis has encouraged us all along from his first great document – The Joy of the Gospel to try and move from Maintenance to Mission.
A “Synodal Church”
Pope Francis also encourages us to work in “synodal” type way. In his few years as Pope he has held major world wide synods of consultation and sharing on the Family and on Youth and Vocations. He encourages us to proceed in this way also. A synodal and discernment approach is what he keeps on emphasising. I emphasised that in the 5 conversation evenings that we just had over the past few weeks.
Events and Happenings in the Diocese
What a busy year it has been in the diocese with new appointments in may areas, some new and some replacing great and loyal servants of the dicese for a long numberof years:
Office Manager – Claire Thynneto replace Margaret Flynn
Finance Officer – Cathy Sheehanto replace John Lillis
We have launched two new roles in recent months, with the appointment of:
Youth Officer – Joanne O’Brien
Diocesan Nurse – Suzanne O’Neill
Sincere thanks to Ger Nash for the outstanding work he has done in the recruitment process.
We had 3 information evenings in early Autumn on the new ministries of Catechist and Pastoral Care that we have embarked upon. The response and interest in that has been significant and encouraging. Over 200 people turned up and over 50 people applied as a result of that. Two discernment days have been held in the past few weeks and they have been very fruitful and worthwhile. Ger and Maureen and Mirana Quinlivan have been doing interviews over the past few days and I commend them both on the huge work they have put into this area.
We have just embarked on a series of Conversation evenings in 5 locations in the diocese – giving people the opportunity to reflect and share and chat to each other how they feel at this present time as people of faith. They were most interesting and valuable evenings in which over 300 people engaged meaningfully and earnestly on faith issues. The issues and topics that arose are collated and posted on the diocesan website under the news section.
Looking at various angles and areas of significance in the diocese:
The crucial and important area of safeguarding children and protection of vulnerable adults has come to the fore in Ireland and internationally and we continue under the guidance of Cleo Yates to keep that essential issue central to all that we do always. The safeguarding committee met as recently as Friday last and continue to lead and guide us in this imporant area.
Finance, Property, Trusteeship
Cathy Sheehan, the diocesan finance committee, the Remuneration Committee, the Diocesan Trust, the Property Committee continue to work away in that important area. As you are aware we have impending meetings on finance and admin in 3 locations in the diocese of the coming days.
The new area of data protection has had some initial input in Spring around the time the legislation was introduced. A regional data protection officer will soon be appointed for the Munster dioceses and no doubt you will hear some more in relation to this issue in the near future.
Looking at the area of Communications – there has been a revamp and redesign of the diocesan website. I rejoice in the continuing good work of the Communications team in area of social media. Thanks to Brendan Quinlivan and Arnold Rosney for all they do in this area, the the occasional back-up of Dariusz. (While I mention Arnie – it would be remiss of me not to thank him for his trojan work in relation to the WMOF over the past 2 years, for the tremendous energy, enthusiasm and drive he brought to that role).
We are at an exciting and adventurous new start in relation to Youth Ministry with the appointment of a full time director of Youth Ministry for the First Time ever. We wish Joanne O’Brien every blessing and success as she brings her wealth of knowledge and experience with her in this area.
We are fortunate to have an office for pastoral development, with Ger and Maureen and Jean and to have that as a support and backup for parishes in implementing the new team work system and assist in the training of teams in relation to community led liturgies.
Other areas of outreach – Ministries and Mission
Other areas of outreach, ministries and mission continue as always to work away and live out the Gospel:
Pontifical Missions and Missions Promotion.
Accord in support of Marriage.
Children of the Eucharist.
Education and Patronage.
St. Vincent de Paul.
Liturgy and Liturgical Music.
John Paul II Awards.
Justice and Peace Group.
Faith and light.
Taizé Prayer Groups.
Voice of Peace Ministry.
Pilgrimage of all sorts, local and international.
Legion of Mary.
Play and Pray
St. Joseph’s Young Priest Society
Along with many others…
Variety, Richness, Diversity of Expression and Interest
It’s only when one looksobjectivelyat the different things that are actually going on – that one realises that there really is a lot happening, some more significant than others, but all of much value nonetheless. In my role as Bishop I’m in the fortunate position of getting to get a taste or flavour of so many good things happening with invitations to various things that arise.
Statements of Intent from last year
I think at this juncture it is helpful to take a trip down memory lane to this time last year. At the end of our time here as part of our efforts we proposed statements of intent and it is a good idea to review how we are doing in relation to each of these:
Mission V Maintenance
This is something we all aspire to and work hard to achieve. Our efforts to move to a team ministryin Summer of 2018isan effort to help bring this possibility about.
Care of Clergy /Retirement Policy / Care of the Sick and Elderly
We have made some good progress on these areas with the review of our retirement policy, the appointment of Suzanne, the diocesan nurse. Thank to Pat Larkin and Tony Casey, vicars for senior clergy for their work in this area and I would hope to add another vicar for clergy from the eastern part of the diocese to compliment the work Tony and Pat are doing. Later in these few days, David Carroll will present us with some plans for caring for ourselves by way of supervision for individuals and groups.
Unloading the Wagons
One of the big themes or catch phrases of last year was the phrase “unloading the wagons” from The Lost Art of Walking on Water, a book on ministry by Michael Heher. Again the new model of team ministry was an effort to help this to happen. Part of that proposal was for us to reduce the number of Masses in the diocesefrom 180to 140 per weekend. Much work has been done by the pastoral areas to achieve this and I commend many of you for doing this with minimal fuss.
It was requested that Albert’s one page summary of the new system that went to you all with the diocesan changes and was sent via e-mail by request a number of times be printed out and a hard copy put in your folder. This is the bible really of what we hope will help to unload the wagons and help us move from 180 to 140 Masses per weekend.
Catechesis / Evangelisation -Involvement and training of Lay People for Leadership
This was another key area that emerged last year and the introduction of the new ministries of catechist and pastoral care is a significant step in this direction.
Youth ministry is always something that is on our minds and the appointment of Joanne is a great help to back up the fantastic voluntary work that continues in so many areas of the diocese to support the involvement of Youth in the practice of the faith.
Role of Women in the Church
The role of women in the Church is an area that needs much attention and work. However we continue to make good strides, with so many of our key positions in the diocese now being taken over by women in the area of safeguarding, finance, pastoral care, education, youth ministry, communication, pastoral councils, training for lay led liturgies and other areas.
Thanking God for the Progress
All an on-going work of progress, all enhanced by God’s help, grace and direction! As the old and well worn political slogan runs: A lot done, plenty more to do…
Loughrea 2018 – Together for Mission
Back to 2018! We gather in the spirit of the theme of Together for Mission!
We get a chance to reflect on how we are doing.
What is our mission?
What is our vision?
What gives us focus?
How the changes have been?
How is team ministry going?
How do we feel?
It’s early days for our new system. It will take some time to bed down and settle in. However, from the feedback that I hear on the ground – most pastoral areas are making serious efforts to make it work and have applied themselves diligently to it, with weekly meetings, swopping of pulpits, sharing of resources, rationalizing services. I commend you all highly for the great start you have made and any help that can be given from the diocesan point of view – don’t hesitate to ask!
A time of Opportunity
It’s an exciting, enthusiastic and energising time in the Diocese of Killaloe, a time of great opportunity. It’s also a very challenging time. There are many difficulties and barriers that at times seem unsurmountable, but also great opportunities to evangelise, build on what has been and celebrate our wonderful faith.
Litany of Killaloe Diocese
Last week I was with a group of Education Trustees in Emmaus Retreat centre in Swords. It was the feast of All Saints of Ireland. I had the privilege of offering Mass for the group. As part of the homily and Eucharistic Prayer I used Tom Hogan’s renowned litany of saints of Killaloe diocese. Afterwards, so many people remarked to me – how lucky I was to minister in such a lovely diocese with such a rich ecclesiastical heritage and with such lovely parishes and landscape. That of course includes wonderful people of faith and outstanding clergy as well. Sometimes we forget how fortunate and lucky we are. Sometimes it’s only when you are outside your situation that you realise this.
Conversation, listening, learning
I would hope that the next few days would be characterised by a lot of listening openly and respectfully and in a non judgemental way to each other.
During the conversation evenings that we had recently it was a good model for this where a lot of genuine listening and learning happened.
Authority with rather than power over
No more than at the conversation evenings I hope to learn a lot from you. I’m as always eager to listen and learn. I’m conscious of the huge amount I have learnt over the past two and a half years in your presence and know I have a lot more to learn and am eager to do it. John Hughes used a lovely phrase in one of our meetings in relation to being in charge, the leader, is a position of being in authority with rather than having power over… Authority with rather than power over!
In one of the meetings in preparation for today in Moneygall– Eamonn FitzGibbon remarked that he liked working with the Killaloe priests because they related in a very real way to each other. On that same day, John Hughes remarked from memory of working with you in Willie Walshe’s time – that there was a very earnest engagement and willingness to participate.
Together for Mission
I look forward to being with you over the next few days to continue to experience that realness with each other and the willingess and eagerness to engage with the privileged position we are in as Priests of Jesus Christ entrusted with a fantastic mission. Together for Mission. May these few days be a time of enlightenment, encouragement, comradery, honesty, repect for each other and please God we will return home on Wednesday lunch time, refreshed and renewed from the ministering we engage in to each other.