Some 250-plus members of Killala diocese’s 22 parish councils will meet on Tuesday, September 27, in the Great National Hotel in Ballina to discuss new forms of lay ministry in the light of Pope Francis’ reforms and the continuing decline in priest numbers. One of the key ideas to emerge is that, in the future, if parishes are to be sustained, this will only be possible if parishioners make themselves available, not just in a supportive capacity as up to now but as part of new developing forms of parish ministry in co-operation with priests.
The meeting is part of the Placing Hope in Faith project in Killala diocese since 2017, which strives to respond to Pope Francis’ call to become a ‘synodal Church’ where parishioners and priests adopt a way of being Church that is based on listening, discussing, discerning what God wants and deciding together. It is grounded on an understanding of baptism as the first and most important sacrament conferring rights and responsibilities on the baptised.
In recent months, new parish councils have been elected and trained and the intention is that suggestions offered at the meeting will be assessed by each parish council in terms of their developing needs and resources. The results of the discussions at parish level will then be pooled and whatever new forms of ministry are deemed necessary will be offered appropriate forms of training. The focus on parish councils is based on the belief that they are the key unit going forward. The meeting will be led by Bishop John Fleming and the leadership of Placing Hope in Faith: Anne Sweeney, Patricia Melvin, Peter McLoughlin and Fr Brendan Hoban.