Pastoral Planning Killaloe Diocese Autumn 2019

Pastoral Area Gatherings in the diocese of Killaloe, Autumn, 2019


During the months of September, October and November, Fr. Ger Nash, Ms. Maureen Kelly, the pastoral development team along with Bishop Fintan Monahan visited each of the 15 pastoral areas to move ahead to the next phase of Pastoral Planning.  Builders of Hope was the plan from 2013-2020 and the next plan for the future will be at local level, 15 pastoral plans corresponding to the needs of each pastora area.   Facilitators will be trained in the pastoral areas with the assistance of the Institute for Cultural Affairs and each pastoral area will be encouraged through a process of consultation, dialogue and consensus to write a pastoral plan that will address the strong points and challenges of the pastoral areas.  The emphasis will be on planning at local level rather than a top down model and each pastoral area will have the satisfaction and fulfilment of taking pride and ownership of their own pastoral plan.


The following is a summary of the points raised at the various gatherings.


Pastoral Area Number One – Cois Fharraige (Carrigaholt, Cross, Doonbeg and Kilkee)


Kilkee – Tuesday, 24th of September 2019



  • Beauty
  • Sea
  • Good People – welcome – friendliness – community – solidarity
  • Welcoming visitors – meeting people
  • Cultural richness – music, drama
  • Light House



  • Holding on to young people – depopulation – highest in the country
  • Lack of employment
  • Remoteness
  • Lack of interest by outside bodies
  • Lack of health service
  • Poor infrastructure
  • School closure



  • Depth of inherited faith
  • Christian Community – inbuilt sense of community
  • Funerals
  • Distinction between where people experience Church or faith
  • Church connecting with older generation and children and sick and bereaved and many getting married
  • Struggle to connect with gap years between teens and elderly


Mission Orientated

Distinction between getting people in and reaching out – missionary, evangelical Church


Move from maintenance to mission


Politicisation of Church

  • Are we bordering on the political sphere in trying to better our area?
  • Become active in a constructive, active way.
  • Any projects that have created employment.
  • Trumps Doonbeg
  • Light House


Consultation that is Genuine?

Importance of genuine and broad consultation in order for the plan to be real.


Particular Issues – General Church

  • How does the institutional Church change the image?
  • Role of women in Church?
  • Liturgical language?


Particular Issues for Cois Fharraige

  • How can we sustain Christian Communities?
  • How do we create that sense of belonging?
  • Are there development groups in the area?
  • 8 Church areas in 4 Parishes


Pastoral Area Number Two – Inis Cathaigh (Cooraclare, Killimer, Kilmihil and Cooraclare)


Tuesday November 5th Knockerra Hall



  • Strong links in community
  • Supportive neighbours at times of challenge and joyful times
  • Good schools primary and secondary
  • Link between the young and the old (inter-generational link)
  • Knowledge of neighbours
  • Good retail opportunities
  • Spirit of volunteering




  • Keeping young people
  • Employment
  • Possible closure of Money point – Knock on effect
  • Spin-off from decline of Shannon
  • Perceived lack of interest in the West
  • Isolation for young people
  • Lack of health services
  • Decline of farming community


Positives – Faith Perspective

  • People active in Church community
  • Mass is a place for people to meet, gather and socialize
  • General goodness of people
  • Trying to do the best for ones neighbour
  • Parish seen as positive – parish identity important
  • Youth ministry – belonging and willingness to be involved
  • Giftedness of people


Challenges – Faith Perspective


  • Eucharist seen as the only form of prayer
  • That the priest is the only one who can lead prayer
  • Clerical reluctance to enable people to use their gifts and talents
  • Denial or Reluctance of Acceptance of what’s ahead of us
  • Affirming people in their own ability while the priests are still there
  • Are we working out of shortage of priests rather than people’s innate baptismal call to serve
  • “Hatch, match, dispatch” approach of some people or what we might call “a la carte approach” or “bouncy Castle Catholics”, people who only come for occasions. How do we engage with them?


Looking to the future – challenges


  • Alternative approaches – occasions like blessing of animals, Drumelihy, Dawn Masses establishes connection and gets people effectively involved.
  • Is attendance at Mass a measure of genuine Christian living?
  • Investing energy in the in-between third who are still slightly interested in Church, apart from the practicing one third.
  • Need to follow where the people are, engagement, seek out, evangelize.
  • Need to think, plan and engage with people in a creative way.
  • Creating a sense of belonging and welcome central.


Pastoral Area challenges

Establishing an identity of the pastoral area

People more inclined to do things at local level

Advantage of working together

Youth ministry is an example of something that can benefit from shared expertise at Pastoral Area level

Rethinking of the team concept to build shared responsibility



Pastoral Area Number Three – Radharc na nOileaán (Ballynacally/Lisseycasey, Coolmeen/Cranny, Kildysart and Kilmurray-McMahon)


Kildysart, Wednesday, 25th of September, 2019



  • Quality of life
  • Scenery
  • Community Spirit
  • Welcome
  • Amenities
  • Safe environment
  • Peaceful environment
  • Schools
  • Neighbourliness



  • Employment
  • Lack of public Transport
  • Declining numbers
  • Access to facilities & public services
  • Drain away towards big towns
  • Rural decline


Church Context



  • Community at funerals
  • Welcome
  • United clergy
  • Involvement of laity in liturgy
  • Many ministries
  • Church at centre of focus of life for certain age groups
  • Involvement of youth to a certain age – up to primary level
  • Involvement of young parents
  • Pride in maintaining Church buildings



  • Same pool of people involved
  • ‘Ask’ people
  • Approach – encourage – how do we involve others
  • Competing with other events
  • Lack of young families
  • Relating the scriptures to today
  • Financial challenges
  • Non-practicing teachers
  • Worry about the future
  • Lack of resources into the future
  • Questions about the future
  • Radio Link
  • Will religion be side-lined in schools?
  • Should religion be taken out of school altogether?
  • Focus on people, ethos, faith & not buildings
  • Faith still exists but things will be different
  • Smaller more vibrant Church Community – maybe that’s the way to go?


Mission to Maintenance

Missionary people – ‘Baptised and Sent’

Gather people in but need to go out also!


  • Importance of welcoming everyone
  • Every starting place is valid
  • Need to be able to articulate what faith means to us personally
  • Less emphasis on rules & regulations



Pastoral Area Number 4 – Críocha Callan (Inagh/Kilnamona, Kilmaley, Miltown Malbay and Mullagh)




  • Scenery
  • Football – hurling
  • Music
  • Mount Callan
  • Safety
  • Neighbourliness – welcome
  • Biodiversity



  • Transport
  • Ageing demographics
  • Isolation
  • Unemployment
  • Emigration
  • Government policies
  • Loss of services
  • Shannon airport decline
  • Access to 3rd level education
  • Decline in agriculture
  • Abandonment
  • Housing
  • Medical facilities




  • Pastoral Councils
  • People Responsive to changes
  • Lay-led liturgies generally well received -Coore experienced mixed & not as good
  • Support from clergy at funeral times
  • Variety of priests and rotation of pulpits good
  • People rally to Church at challenging times
  • Sacraments – great gathering
  • Creative liturgies like Dawn Mass & Mount Callan & Spanish Point & St Flannans well
  • Maintenance of Church buildings
  • Support when needed
  • Pride in graveyards
  • Financial support good




  • Falling numbers
  • Decline in youth
  • Sucking the energy out place due to absence
  • Over reliance on same people
  • Lack of flexibilty in Church times
  • Recruiting Pastoral Council Members
  • Developing long term commitment
  • Uncertainty about what the future will hold
  • Draws of the secular world
  • Challenge of Pride – interesting theological aspect
  • Dialogue rather than dictation
  • Lack of change from top down – frustration
  • Not dealing with the big issues


Looking towards the Future

  • Closed Churches? Nobody wants that.
  • Less clergy
  • Fear and anger and helplessness in older generation at the demise of religion & values
  • Living in Denial and not accepting and realising that
  • Church has had challenges in the past & has coped
  • Maybe it thrives more in time of adversity
  • Freedom and choice and lack of compulsion is such a positive
  • More respectful of peoples choices
  • Not all doom and gloom
  • At a cross roads
  • Set up a forum or platform for people to explore & be educated & be involved
  • Understanding the influence of secularism and technology is huge
  • Religion is now marginalised


What is needed to survive?

  • Encourage youth – more dialogue – no future without that!
  • Positives of social media – engaging platforms
  • Places to connect with people
  • Respectful, meaningful experiences
  • Mission – reaching out! As well as drawing in!
  • Move religion out of the school – Sunday School model
  • Opposite opinion expressed
  • Diversity as a positive
  • Training of people is necessary
  • Vision of lay Church necessary & accompanying imagination
  • Letting go to allow a new entity emerge


  • Offer a framework from the diocese
  • Get out of helplessness mode – be creative
  • Training at appropriate level is desirable


Pastoral Area Five – Abbey (Clarecastle, Doora-Barefield, Ennis and Quin) – Monday 21st October


Context in which we live faith



  • Employment
  • Infrastructure
  • Services
  • Gateway location
  • Community Groups
  • Good education at all levels
  • Diversity of people
  • Heritage, music etc



  • Substance abuse
  • Inclusion of youth
  • Lacking a ‘buzz’
  • Some unemployment
  • Lack of connection
  • Challenge of keeping community together
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Family break down
  • Suicide
  • Maintaining identity
  • Supports for people in difficulty
  • Mental health
  • Commuter belt – not knowing neighbours
  • Lack of time for each other
  • Poverty


Positives – Faith Perspective

  • Sense of community
  • Welcome & acceptance for outsiders
  • Help available at times of trouble
  • Willingness to get involved
  • Good facilities buildings, schools etc
  • Franciscan presence, constant for 800 years
  • Variety of liturgy, Neo-Catechumenate Way, Old-rite of Latin Mass, Taizé as well as regular Mass
  • Nursing home Masses
  • Leaders willing to listen
  • Legacy of religious, but somewhat forgotten
  • Resident priest in each parish
  • Perpetual Adoration
  • More involvement of lay people
  • Good relationship between priests and people
  • Working together improving
  • Contribution of non-national Priests positive
  • Rotation of clergy & variety appreciated
  • Breaks down boundaries
  • Innovative ideas like Confession on the Mall appreciated
  • Ownership now is more claimed by lay people
  • Confession ministry and availability of Friars
  • Rich heritage of pilgrimage – Taizé, holy wells, Killone etc
  • Youth Ministry


Challenges – Faith Perspective

  • Falling numbers participating
  • More training needed by lay people
  • Decline in youth practice
  • Challenge in connecting with the younger generation
  • Culture around us is evolving
  • Our generation have lost a sense of pride in their Church
  • Negativity sometimes created by ourselves
  • Practical challenge of number of Churches and Masses
  • Pastoral Area makes individual priests less connected to individual parishes
  • Need to learn how to work and share with one another in trust
  • Many challenges to working as team


Biggest challenges for future

  • Connecting with the generations lost to the Church
  • Making Church relevant to their lives
  • Lack of adult and ongoing formation & education
  • Letting schools take over religious formation when parents & families might have a more central role
  • Relevance to cope with a perceived apathy
  • Importance of a renewed vision to cope with a changing mindset
  • Ageing population
  • Biggest challenge how to make it real and happen & must be lead


Pastoral Area 6 Tradaree (Newmarket-on-Fergus, Shannon and Sixmilebridge)  – Tuesday 22nd October – Shannon



  • Community Spirit
  • Voluntary organisations
  • Good schools
  • Sporting Tradition
  • Good infrastructure – Roads – airport
  • Employment
  • Sense of place
  • Presence of Youth



  • Drugs
  • Airport – decline in business
  • Employment – closure of Molex today
  • Migrants – how to provide & integrate them
  • Homelessness and rough sleeping
  • Poverty – food distribution on Fridays & work of St Vincent de Paul
  • Lack of coordinated focus between voluntary groups
  • Distractions for young people
  • Isolation – loneliness – separation – living alone
  • Mental health
  • Loss of Small businesses
  • Cost of living


Faith Context



  • Good clergy – faithful relationship
  • Preparation for sacraments – good involvement
  • Mass options – opportunities
  • Community – neighbourliness
  • Connection with the real lives of people – Mart project, area gatherings – genuine Church outreach
  • Gift of Eucharistic Adoration and a dedicated chapel for this
  • Parish offices a meeting place for all faiths and none
  • Good funeral liturgies & bereavement ministry including cremations
  • Practical Christianity through St Vincent de Paul
  • Blest with schools and teachers
  • Appreciation of faith dimension in schools
  • Novena for Holy Souls works well – innovative & links with people
  • Input of young Priests from other cultures connecting through good humour & linking in with youth
  • Bereavement ministry
  • Mercy on the Mall
  • Men’s Shed
  • Prayer groups
  • Social Media – communication



  • Looking beyond clergy for faith input
  • Negativity of media
  • Challenge of making the Christian message meaningful
  • Beginning with reality
  • Declining faith practice demoralizing
  • Loss of sense of community
  • Negative Peer pressure
  • Over identification of Church with clergy
  • Opening up to shared values
  • Linking in and reaching out to people of good will of common Christian values
  • Decline in prayer
  • Less family prayer
  • How do we nourish Christian values?


Looking to the future

How do we cope in future with less clergy & as a unit?

More involvement of lay people seen as key

Synodal approach – working together

Rotation of clergy seen as positive

Discernment of leadership from within the faith community

Initial steps of going in this direction – beginning to see the reality of change necessary & desirable

Beginning to think & plan & face these issues

New ministries a start

Not just about gathering people in but us going out!

Smaller more vibrant communities – Creative minorities, Rod Dreher – Benedict option.

Pope Francis on the importance of mission & listening to people & creating a more welcoming Church

How do we reach out to the groups that have walked away?


  • Discernment
  • Listening
  • Conversation

Delve into what these terms mean – unpacking words – deconstructing the old reality – avoiding taxidermy, putting a feathered look on the old!


Very strong sense that the Pastoral Area reality needs to be shared and communicated.

A pastoral area newsletter or something of that nature is seen as highly desirable



Pastoral Area 7 – Ceantar na Lochanna (Broadford, O’Callaghan’s Mills and Tulla) Tuesday October 29th, 2019




  • Community Spirit
  • Facilities
  • Welcome
  • Presence of Youth
  • Reasonable employment
  • Close to urban centres – Limerick & Shannon
  • Good spirit of volunteerism




  • Rural isolation in parts
  • Poor public transport
  • Decline in services and facilities
  • Lack of local jobs
  • Drugs
  • Travel for sporting facilities
  • Effects of social media


Positives – Faith Perspective


  • Volunteers
  • Cross section of young and old in Church
  • Pray and play
  • Sacramental programmes
  • Youth groups emerging
  • Vibrant church community in smaller areas
  • Support in times of difficulty
  • Active choirs
  • Better connection with smaller pastoral areas
  • Work in progress
  • Benefits of newsletter for connection
  • Rotation has potential & a work in progress


Challenges – Faith Perspective


  • Decline in numbers
  • Why? Effects of social media? Other distractions?
  • Multiplicity of events. Sport, cultural.
  • Lack of finances for parishes.
  • Challenges of keeping people engaged and entertained in the multi media and busy world we live in.


Looking to the future – challenges


Employment – struggling areas

How do we cope with the lack of priests?

Sometimes people are just too busy, tired & exhausted for faith events

More involvement of laity

How do we keep 3 Churches going in each areas

Is there going to be genuine faith in future generations – fundamental question. How do we pass that on?

How do we awaken faith?

Look to the inspiration of Pope Francis

Role of women in the Church

Shortage of priests seems to be a Western Culture phenomenon

Multiple Mass centres for the number practicing

Are we going to allow the Church to disappear?


One opinion:


  • Nothing happening!
  • Poor leadership.
  • Series of disappointing bishops in Killaloe including the current incumbent.
  • Priests doing nothing.
  • Poor pastoral plans that are a waste of time.
  • More Masses instead of cutting them.
  • Prayer for vocations.
  • People afraid to say they are Catholic.
  • Are we going to allow the Church to disappear?


Pastoral Area 8 – Imeall Bóirne (Corofin, Crusheen, Ruane and Tubber),  Wednesday November 14th – Ruane Community Hall


(Note – Imeall Bóirne Cluster was set up in 2003)


Positives from a secular point of view

  • People
  • Scenery
  • Music – ceoltas
  • Traditions – mummers – the wren – straw-boys
  • People involved in things
  • GAA
  • Youth clubs
  • Good schools – 7 Primary schools in the area
  • Drama – tradition
  • Hospitality
  • Location good – central
  • Volunteers plus



  • Lack of facilities
  • Loss of young people
  • Rural decline in some areas, but the opposite in some places like Crusheen
  • Employment for young people
  • Public transport
  • No secondary schools – diverse scattering of students to surrounding towns in Galway and Clare
  • Rural isolation
  • Elderly loneliness
  • Pubs closing
  • Reduced Garda presence
  • Post offices facilities in decline
  • Lack of shops
  • Medical Care
  • Decline in agriculture
  • Commuting a long distance to work
  • Volunteers – hard to involve the youth


Positives – Faith Perspective

  • People – willing able, positive and giving
  • People rally at time of challenge and tragedy and challenge as community and Church
  • Having Churches to share faith as a community – 9 Churches in total
  • Participation of lay people in liturgies – deserving of support
  • Having at least one Mass a month in each Church appreciated
  • Monthly Masses for the faithful departed appreciated
  • Social gathering around Masses
  • Growing need for people to dig deeper in themselves to meet faith needs of community
  • Taking new responsibilities
  • Realising a sense of mission among all the baptised faithful
  • Involvement of 6th class pupils in Prayers of the Faithful
  • Good choirs
  • Priests reflections on scriptures appreciated
  • Sacramental preparation Masses
  • Baptism preparation – enjoyable and makes people think
  • Harvest Masses
  • Blessing of new born babies
  • Huge number of volunteers
  • Giving children a public role
  • Young people learn how to be in and around the sacred
  • ‘Godly play’ a valued resource in Church and school. Introduces children to wonder
  • Parental involvement in sacrament of initiation preparation
  • Sharing of priests
  • Shared newsletter – plus and minus
  • Pastoral area secretary
  • Eucharistic Adoration
  • Missions at pastoral area level
  • Charity events – shoe box appeal – ‘giving tree’ for Clare Care
  • Acknowledgement and acceptance of challenges and efforts being made to address them
  • Preparation for change has been flagged and planned in advance
  • Leadership of clergy appreciated
  • So much growth in pastoral area


Challenges – Faith Perspective

  • Liturgical music in Churches – getting the youth involved
  • Keeping people involved on a regular basis apart from the occasions
  • To give youth the challenge and opportunity and invitation to be involved
  • Engage with both parents and children – mutual interest
  • Sense of betrayal by Church and State
  • Reconnect with young people
  • People in positions of power making unwise statements about therapies that people find beneficial to health
  • Proximity to Ennis – luring people away from local Masses
  • Lack of male involvement in Church
  • Multiple vetting affecting volunteerism
  • Decline in finance
  • Buildings getting older and more challenging
  • Concern over religious education in schools
  • Maybe a version of Sunday school is the way to go?
  • Loss of practice of family prayer and personal devotion and communal rosary
  • Prayer no longer an integral part of people’s routines
  • Secularism – strong force that makes faith practice challenging
  • Influence of grandparents who once passed on the faith in decline
  • Religious imagery and emblems in decline
  • Challenge of demand for alternative patronages in schools
  • Adult education for participation and responsibility needed to move from passivity
  • Need for study groups and catechism studies
  • Legacy issues of negative aspects of Church
  • Involvement of women in Church leadership
  • Facing the bigger moral issues and issues of inclusion and exclusion (sexual orientation)


Looking to the future – challenges


Need for knowledge of what the statistics and plans are for outside the pastoral areas

Needs to transcend personalities

Good that the plan is from the bottom up


Pastoral Area 9 – Inis Cealtra (Ogonnoloe, Scarriff, Mountshannon, Feakle, Whitegate, Bodyke, Tuamgraney) Wednesday 16th of October



  • GAA
  • Traditions
  • Accessible
  • Friendliness
  • Community organisations
  • Good schools
  • Beautiful area – scenery
  • Proximity to UL
  • Little crime




  • Poor broadband
  • Isolation
  • Public transport
  • Population decline
  • Aging population
  • Housing scarcity
  • Unemployment
  • Declining school numbers
  • Less volunteering
  • Lack of home-help access


Positives from Faith Perspecitve

  • Goodness in people
  • Good priests
  • Variety of liturgies
  • Laity involved in Church
  • Involvement of Women
  • Children Serving Mass


Challenges – faith Perspective

  • Declining numbers practicing – regular attenders
  • Church as a service provider
  • Financial challenges
  • Challenge of faith formation in schools
  • Dilution of understanding of faith
  • Fear that the faith communities will become extinct
  • Lacunae – lack of adult education & ongoing formation
  • Leaving aside the language of fear
  • Married Priests
  • Insignificant role for women in Church
  • Lack of roles for children & meaningful engagement
  • Difference between what happens at international & local level


Discussion  – Rich Conversation


  • Importance of listening
  • Discussion on scarcity of priests & centrality & desirability of the Eucharist
  • Hunger and desire for the spiritual & people no longer know where that will be satisfied
  • Sense of confusion in Church at present – open questioning & living with uncertainties
  • Church not dead but just dormant
  • Reality of a leaner Church – Benedict – Rod Dreher (The Benedict Option)
  • Example of Parish cells of evangelisation


Pastoral Area Number Ten – Scáth na Sionnaine (Castleconnell, Clonlara and Killaloe)


Castleconnell, Tuesday, 17th of September, 2019


Where to from here?

Glass full or empty?

Encouragement – Hope

Very committed people – Pope Benedict – Small Christian Communities

Pastoral & Catechetics Training

How do we promote this?


Local Realities

  • 3 counties – Identity, place
  • Rural / Urban
  • Commuter belt – movement of people
  • University – bonus – student population
  • Lots of young people rather than reducing
  • Sacramental Programmes – huge expectation on schools
  • Gaps in pastoral practice between Sacraments
  • Mission Territory


Strengths from Faith Perspective

  • Funerals – handle grief well
  • Participation & support of community
  • Big influx of people coming during the Summer
  • Maintenance of Churches good
  • Sense of Church as home
  • People who are committed are extraordinarily committed



  • Who will replace the current set of committed people?
  • Difficult to get volunteers now in many areas.
  • Separation of school and parish? Parish taking more responsibility.
  • How do we look at Church differently?



Thinking in strategic ways. Go out. Connect.



Inverting the pyramid

Think and talk together



  • Connecting with life
  • Reality
  • Women in Church
  • Reality of liturgical texts
  • Belief in transcendent has disappeared
  • Behave – Believe – Belong


Pastoral Area Number Eleven – Odhrán (Nenagh, Portroe, Puckane, Silvermines, Templederry and Youghalarra)


Nenagh – Thursday, September 26th, 2019



  • People
  • Hurling
  • Universality
  • Accessible, central – close to Dublin
  • Amenities
  • Good land
  • Community Spirit
  • Scenic
  • Services
  • Industry
  • Young people
  • Shops



  • Emergency services
  • Limited local transport
  • Drugs
  • Loss of local or rural shops
  • Isolation
  • Loneliness
  • Anonymity
  • Crime
  • Anxiety in young people
  • Fear among elderly


Church Positives

  • Lay involvement
  • Ministries
  • Participation
  • Lay ownership
  • People there because they want to be
  • Less fear – people there by choice
  • Outside Church building services – pilgrim places, Mass Rocks, Holy Wells
  • More imagination, more creativity
  • Better relationships between clergy and laity
  • Things more local, more practical
  • Church adapting to need for change
  • Other non Church Options available
  • Preparation evenings for Sacraments enjoyable
  • Young people getting involved – JPII awards
  • Multicultural
  • Openness and tolerance and less judgemental
  • Openness to other religions


Church Challenges

  • Family prayer, faith in the home very rare now in many homes
  • Not the case in some homes
  • Lessening influence of Grandparents
  • Traditional faith symbols missing
  • Ageing Congregation
  • Ageing priests
  • Coping with change
  • Religion in schools and hospitals moving out
  • Loss of link with Church when no resident priest
  • Challenge of secularism
  • Lack of sense of God
  • Individualism
  • Loss of sense of community
  • Keeping Churches open
  • Burn out of all involved
  • Fewer Masses
  • Challenge of getting people to commit
  • Financial challenges in Parishes
  • Lack of involvement of young people
  • Becoming Church of occasions
  • Regular practice & ritual diminishing
  • Young people don’t feel they belong
  • New platforms needed
  • Fresh imagination


Mission to Maintenance

Engaging with the ‘amber’ people

Missionary people – ‘Baptised and Sent’

Gather people in – but need to go out also!



Good news of pastoral ministries

Geraldine Armitage

Deborah O’Driscoll


Share this good News

How do we promote this?

How do we generate interest in creating momentum?

Pray Hope and do not Worry – Padre Pio


Pastoral Area Twelve – Ollatrim (Cloughjordan, Dunkerrin and Toomevara) Tuesday 15th October 2019



  • Central
  • Community Spirit
  • Friendship – Dunkerrin
  • Similar communities – rural and active
  • Good employment
  • Facilities sport & recreation
  • Lots of Churches



  • Employment
  • Rural isolation for elderly
  • Poor public transport
  • Poor Broadband
  • Diminishing facilities – shops
  • Drugs
  • Climate change
  • Decline in agriculture
  • Implications of Brexit
  • Parish boundaries porous





  • Young people attending Mass – Youth Folk Group
  • Still have Churches despite all
  • Community involvement and commitment
  • Good priests – positive impact
  • People going to Churches they may never have gone to before
  • Young married couples in attendance



  • Secular influences
  • Changing & challenging culture
  • Less youth involvement
  • Keeping pastoral area united when changes need to be made
  • Fear and unwillingness to accept change
  • Loss of parish identity
  • Challenge and need to work in collaborstion and partnership
  • Acceptance of change huge thing
  • Difficulty to ‘deconstruct’!
  • Everyone is dispensible – even Fr Joe!
  • Trauma around change of Mass times
  • Lack of consultation around Same
  • People not included
  • Perceived inequality of service available in some bigger areas


Pastoral Area

  • Getting to know priests and places in area – rotation of priests and people
  • Life giving for priests in rotating
  • Reflection on the challenge of tough decisions in leadership
  • Support immense
  • Change is always tough


Looking to the Future – Crystal Ball – challenges

  • Church attendance
  • People just coming for the big days
  • Challenge of less priests – lay involvement
  • Maintenance of Churches
  • Huge need for constant communication to all involved
  • Current landscape readdressed?
  • Sense of preaching to the converted – how do we address this?
  • Christian community is vital
  • Sense of welcome – key to the door
  • Youth Ministry big challenge of welcome
  • Bottom up & not top down approach – challenge
  • Role of women in the Church – huge issue


Pastoral Area Thirteen – Cois Deirge (Borrisokane, Lorrha and Terryglass) Thursday 21st of November 2019


Positives – Secular Perspective

  • Community Spirit
  • Beautiful scenery
  • ‘The Lake’ – Cois Deirge
  • Hurling – All Ireland Champions!
  • People
  • Historic area
  • Good farm land
  • Little traffic – ease of commuting and getting around
  • Good schools, primary and secondary
  • Central location, geographically


Challenges – Secular Perspective

  • Loneliness – Isolation
  • Need to travel to work
  • Lack of good public transport
  • Drugs
  • Lack of activities
  • Unemployment
  • Migration and emigration
  • Move away from the land
  • Impact of centralisation
  • Loss of services


Positives – Faith Perspective

  • Challenge of new pastoral reality and arrangement – People have stepped up to the mark
  • Confidence of lay people in leading liturgy
  • Spirit of cooperation has developed (Driven by necessity, however)
  • Co PPs working well
  • Eucharist Adoration
  • Legion of Mary Presence, Marian Spirituality and Legionary visitation releasing new energy
  • Choir and folk group tradition
  • Liturgy planning groups – Church Seasons
  • Rituals for sacraments of initiation – Do this in Memory & Confirmation programme
  • Care of the environment events – biodiversity day, 101 ways to save the planet, Laudato Si – ecological spirituality
  • Children of the Eucharist – young children introduced to prayer and adoration
  • Christianity evident in public discourse in conversation around welcoming asylum seekers
  • Mass servers
  • Huge number of people involved between different ministries


Challenges – Faith Perspective

Falling attendances

Middle age and young disappearing from regular Church attendance

Less socialising going on and Church attendance being affected due to this and also because of a dependence on technology

Church needs to embrace technology to engage with certain groups

Slowness of Church to adapt, change and evolve

Have become ‘but’ Catholics. A la carte!

Mass seen as the only form of prayer.

Faith is broader than Eucharistic Celebrations

Competition with so many other activities, games, music.

Develop the Awareness of Seeing the work of God in goodness of people’s lives

Marrying cultural values with the wisdom and treasure of faith

Build relationships that are life giving

An approach

  • Ignore
  • Deplore
  • Restore
  • Explore

Impact of Church Scandals – significant

Some however use the scandals as an excuse to leave

Impact and significance of media onslaught

Hypocrisy & materialism taking over

Challenge of Integration of people from outside, if they want to integrate

Challenge not to get people in but to go out and meet them with the gift of faith

Pope Francis – use the opportunity to engage

Example of Michael Breen 1:1:1. Need to engage with the middle one third.

Challenge of finding the best or optimum age of preparation for sacraments and availability of choice, free from compulsion, not having it as a default mode

Using the positive tool of community to develop faith

Mission about seeing what God is doing in the world



Pastoral Area 14 – Brendan Pastoral Area (Birr, Kilcolman, Kinnity and Shinrone) Tuesday, 8th of October, 2019



  • Central – close to so many things
  • Good community
  • Interaction with people
  • Good schools
  • Good clergy
  • GAA important
  • Willingness to participate
  • Vintage week
  • Slieve Blooms – Refreshing scenery
  • Birr Castle
  • Strong identity at parish level
  • Facilities



  • Young people away
  • Unemployment
  • Drugs
  • Shortage of housing
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Challenge of commuting
  • Intrusiveness of technology people stuck in mobile gadgets
  • Isolation
  • Mental health issues
  • Internet
  • Family breakdown




  • Positives in town so different to rural
  • Involvement
  • Gathering at weekend & social interavtion
  • Lay ministries
  • Sense of belonging
  • Continuity, passing on traditions of faith story
  • Faith greater than actual formal practice
  • Build up of friendships among ministers of faith
  • Faith Practice out of choice
  • Ecumenical sharing
  • Doors are still open – welcome to everybody
  • Escapism from noise & pressures of life
  • Community & neighbourliness
  • Young people open at key times
  • Have a priest on a Sunday morning
  • Security of having a priest if needed
  • Lay people stood up to the plate



  • Fear of change
  • Loss of leader in absence of a priest
  • Fear of Church closure
  • Sustaining Christian communities
  • Need viable structures
  • Much learning from the Shinrone experience
  • Age profile
  • Holding on to youth & keeping them involved
  • Finding ways to get people involved
  • Adult education
  • Understanding the scriptures
  • Lack of vocations
  • Looking at alternative models of leadership
  • How will this grow and develop
  • Events to be attended v experience to be entered into (Eoin)


How can we improve things

  • Communicating relationship with God to young people
  • Devise a plan to bring young people back
  • Financial Challenge -maintenance of Buildings & Salaries
  • Mustering up a sense of mission
  • Reaching out as well as drawing in
  • Adjusting to being a minority Church – being a creative minority (Camara & Benedict)
  • Something new emerging out of the old form of Church
  • Platform for listening to young people



Pastoral Area Fifteen – Cronan Pastoral Area (Bournea, Kyle and Knock, Roscrea) – Thursday 17th of October




  • Friendship
  • Community Spirit – Funerals
  • Age-friendly place
  • People are kind and inclusive
  • Cooperation between Churches – Ecumenical Spirit
  • Choral Tradition – not enough Masses for the number of choirs!
  • History of moving around within Pastoral Area
  • People open to change


Challenges Socially & Economically

  • Lack of Employment
  • Disengagement socially
  • Decline in shops, small businesses
  • Drugs, Alcohol
  • Mental Health, suicide
  • Fear among old people of burglaries
  • Threat to services
  • Communication challenge for elderly – medical services
  • Social media causing isolation


Positives in Church Life

  • Good liturgies
  • Churches full at certain times
  • Supportive priests – in tune with community
  • Pastoral area works well
  • Rotation working well
  • Good parish office
  • Single Pastoral Area Newsletter
  • Webcam
  • Church gives identity and tradition
  • Churches of now are functioning & operative
  • Daily Mass appreciated – point of connection
  • Welcome, inclusive and help is sought regularly
  • Churches well maintained & warm


Challenges from Church Point of View

  • Fears of closure of Churches, no clergy
  • Declining numbers
  • Lack of Participation
  • Age profile of attendees
  • In between age group missing!
  • Fear for the generations to come
  • Faith not being adequately nourished for young people in some schools
  • Teenagers not supported
  • Lack of connection with ‘well-being’ & Church
  • Challenge of Culture that is not conducive to faith
  • Church full for occasions but not on a regular basis
  • Why focus on challenges & not solutions?


How do we move forward?

  • Stop looking up for solutions
  • Look to each other
  • Find ways to attract people
  • Need to reach out – be missionary
  • Meaningful ways of engaging?
  • Catechesis just focused on ‘the big day’ occasions
  • Take catechesis out of schools?
  • Outreach to non-nationals? Involved in Parish