Responses received to questions on Pastoral Letter – Let Hope Shape our Future

Collated Questions and Answers arising from Easter Letter of Bishop Fintan Monahan – Let Hope Shape our Future


The following is a summary of the responses received from individuals and pastoral councils in the diocese in response to engage with a series of questions issued on foot of Easter letter available on the following link:

 Many thanks to all the parish pastoral councils, organisations and individuals who responded.

  1. How has Covid-19 affected my personal faith?


  • The vast majority of responses felt that it had deepened people’s faith.
  • While it has changed the way we practice our faith, it hasn’t affected our faith.
  • One parish felt it was too early to answer that question.
  • Inclined to question things more after Covid-19 than previously.
  • Another parish said it has affected faith both positively and negatively.
  • Time to slow down and take stock.
  • More time to read and reflect.


  1. Has my view of Church changed as a result of the pandemic?


  • Almost all respondents said no.
  • Church has helped us get through the pandemic.
  • We see the need for more on-line presence for sick and housebound.
  • The biggest change is in the practice of bereavement and adapting to new ways of condolences.
  • Huge sense of appreciation for what we have and what was missed, mainly gathering freely and the sense community.
  • If we can manage well without the presence of Church during lockdown, then it may not be as important and central as we feel it is!
  • Thankfulness for the adaptability of Church in moving on-line when needed.
  • Much more appreciative of the domestic Church at home and less reliant on the priest in the Church.


  1. Do I want to return to the way things were before Covid-19 struck?


  • A balance of Yes and No answers.
  • Has encouraged, questioning, exploration and reflection.
  • Longing to return to normal practice of Mass with congregations present.
  • Need for a more inclusive Church.
  • Need for more simplicity, less flamboyance.
  • This time can be seen as a huge opportunity to re-engage with people in a new way.
  • A time to embrace change is welcome.
  • The sense of togetherness, the centrality of community within Church has been deepened and appreciated more.


  1. Am I open to accepting a new model of Church?


  • Every group responded said yes, apart from one.
  • What is this new model of Church? Needs to be explored and defined.
  • No if it ‘excludes’ women.
  • More involvement of laity central to this.
  • Change is inevitable and we need to embrace it.
  • Need to try and engage with those under 30.
  • The model of pastoral areas needs to be more effective and utilised.
  • We have to in order to move forward. No returning to the past.  No other option.


  1. Am I prepared to be a participant in planning for the future?


  • Yes across the board apart from one respondent.
  • Struggle to get new and younger members on board.
  • Yes, as long as we are not alone in doing this. Feeling of security and belonging in a group.
  • Much more interested in involvement at local level. Interest wanes a little if it’s diluted to pastoral area or diocese.
  • Having studied for a diploma in pastoral studies, I’m enthusiastic to get involved.
  • Very willing to get involved at practical level of doing things.
  • People welcome hope, new strategy and a positive direction.


  1. What areas should we be focusing on and prioritising: evangelization, mission, care of the poor, liturgy, prayer, theology, spirituality, vocations promotion, lay ministry, family ministry, pilgrimage, scripture, adult education, youth ministry, women in ministry, education, care of the sick and elderly, other? Please indicate which you feel needs most priority and why?


  • Prayer, Devotions, essential.
  • Who are the poor? Isn’t it a much broader reality than people strapped for cash?
  • Inclusiveness in ministry and pastoral care essential.
  • Role of women in the Church needs discussion and change.
  • Proclaiming the good news of the Gospel afresh is essential.
  • Well prepared, meaningful liturgy, focused rituals for seasons and occasions are essential to the life of the Church.
  • One parish did a poll of these items and presented it on a bar chart. Care of the elderly, the poor and prayer were the top three items.
  • All of the above important in their own way.


  1. Can you suggest possible avenues or ideas to help resource the Church of the future at a time of rapidly diminishing resources and financial reserves.


  • Promotion of on-line donation.
  • Charitable Refund Scheme to be promoted more.
  • Less reliance on the weekly envelope.
  • Fundraising events – bingo, walks, climbs.
  • The key is getting the crowds back to attend and resources will increase when this happens.
  • When rituals connect genuinely with people and community and are deeply meaningful – resources will appear.
  • Too reliant on Sunday collection. Alternative, community based fundraising events to be explored.
  • If there is an energy and vibrancy in gatherings, collections will increase.


  1. Should we also be exploring and developing other new forms of practice, online gatherings as an example, the online apostolate?


  • One of the hugely positive things about the pandemic.
  • Many possibilities open up in this area.
  • On-line gatherings for sacramental occasions were highly effective during pandemic. Great potential here.
  • Some people don’t engage at all on-line so this means nothing to some.
  • Despite the obvious advantages in this area, still no substitute for physical presence, especially for Eucharist and most liturgies.
  • The way of the future for meetings certainly.
  • Emphasis on quality rather than quantity.
  • Much more social media presence needed.
  • Online inspirational presentations have great scope and potential for development.
  • Some find on-line meetings challenging and difficult from the human point of view.
  • Some reported a tiredness of on-line gatherings and long for real meetings again.


  1. How do we re-energise those who have fallen out of the habit of engaging with Church over the past year?


  • Gentle encouragement.
  • Imagination and creativity needed to draw young people back.
  • Sacramental moments that connect.
  • Personal invitations to each household.
  • Link in with choirs, altar servers, youth and they will draw people back.
  • Seasonal rituals and outdoor events that link in with heritage is a good way to connect with people.
  • Engaging with newcomers, welcoming people from other countries.
  • Linking of school with parish and home will help.
  • Getting people involved in ministry will get more participation.
  • Door to door invitation in parishes.
  • Talking to people and listening to them in all their experiences and giving them the opportunity to be heard.


  1. How can we reach out to people outside our Church, people who have become disaffected or hurt by Church, recent scandals, reports of one type or another, marginalised groups?


  • Focus on the Gospel, justice and equality.
  • Meeting, listening, acknowledging hurt.
  • Opening evenings. Reach out.  Invite guest speakers.
  • Be a Church of service, welcome and open to everyone.
  • Be a Church of constant kindness, listening and show trust.
  • Honesty and frankness about issue of the past.
  • Trust in the power of prayer.
  • Strong leadership.
  • Be Christ-like!