Since a draft Pastoral Strategy document
for the diocese was published earlier this year by a working group
assembled by Bishop Buckley, thousands of priests and parishioners
from across the diocese have met to discuss its implications.
This document summarises recent developments
Many of the people present at a recent gathering
of clergy and laity in the Diocese of Cork and Ross came away
feeling more optimistic about the future of the Church.
The meeting discussed in detail several aspects of the draft
Pastoral Strategy for the Diocese of Cork and Ross that was published
by the Diocesan Pastoral Strategy Group (DPSG) at the beginning
The meeting was a first in the diocese. It involved representative
clergy of the diocese and parishioners from across the diocese
who were selected by parishioners to attend.
Some said they had thought they would never witness such a diocesan
meeting where crucial issues facing the Church in Cork and Ross
were discussed and explored in depth.
This meeting brings to a conclusion this particular round of
consultation with parishioners and clergy However, there is a
desire and a hope that this way of working together marks a new
The energy and commitment brought to the process by everyone
was truly inspiring and uplifting. So much so, that even though
over 5,000 people in the diocese have attended meetings in recent
months, it's a pity more people couldn't experience the spirit
What is at issue is a renewed way of being Church a parish is
not just about the priest anymore and the diocese is not just
about the bishop. Even though it's 40 years since the Second Vatican
Council, there is an appreciation now and a hunger for its core
message: that the Church is the People of God. This means that
many of the old patterns of working and planning in parishes have
The scarcity of priests is also an added impetus for change but
there was a strong sense running through much of the feedback
that, even if we bad more priests, the future of the Church lies
in developing close bonds of shared ownership and co-responsibility
between clergy and parishioners.
Since the draft document was published, almost every parish of
the diocese (66 of the 68) held a meeting at which the central
thrust of the proposed strategy was discussed.
The parish meetings then sent representatives to area meetings
which were held in May 2004. The area meetings met twice in one
week and were held in Bandon, Bantry Carrigaline, Clonakilty and
three sets of meetings in Cork for the city and surrounds at Silver
Springs Hotel, Maryborough House Hotel and the Kingsley Hotel.
The meeting on June 19th took place at the Great Southern Hotel,
Cork Airport, and was attended by representative clergy and laity
from each of the seven area meetings. There were 27 delegates
Presentations based on the reports from the parish
meetings and area meetings were made by members of the DPSG. Further
questions for consultation were raised and full and in-depth discussions
on each topic took place. The meeting was facilitated by Joe O'Keeffe
and Elizabeth Gany Brosnan who were contracted by the diocese
to assist the DPSG
Bishop John Buckley attended the full-day meeting and listened
to the discussions and the comments of the delegates. At the end
of the meeting, he assured all present of his commitment to seeing
the process through to implementation.
He emphasised the need to have all the people of the diocese
aware of opportunities for being more involved in their parishes
and in the diocese. The diocese will also work to ensure that
whatever resources are needed will be found and made available,
The five principal themes under discussion were:
Loud calls from everyone for more extensive involvement by all
the people of a parish in the administration and ministry of the
parish. People want structures put in place in each parish so
that they be partners in the work of the parish with the priests,
e.g. Parish Pastoral Councils, Parish Assemblies, Parish Committees.
PARISH IDENTITY AND PASTORAL AREAS-
There is general agreement that the identity and uniqueness of
each parish needs to be preserved and strengthened. However, parishes
need to work more closely with neighbouring parishes to share
resources and expertise, to plan timetables of Masses together,
and to promote services and structures which parishes cannot do
easily in isolation. Pastoral areas are seen as unavoidable.
The feedback from meetings throughout the diocese also emphasises
the need to pay more attention to the preparation and celebration
of the liturgy especially Mass. Responsibility for this rests
with the entire parish. There are calls for greater variety in
the way Mass is celebrated so that it is invigorating and inclusive
LEADERSHIP AND SUPPORT: THE ROLE OF THE DIOCESE -
The meeting also discussed the need to support and encourage leadership
from all the baptised at parish and diocesan level A primary role
in the mission of the Church is given to each person at baptism.
Provision also needs to be made to welcome and resource the employment
of more people to serve the needs of the faith community at parish
and diocesan level.
EDUCATION, FORMATION AND EVANGELISATION -
The need for ongoing faith formation for all was also highlighted.
Parishes and the diocese were asked to provide a structure and
resources for adult religious education and for ways of spreading
the Good News which will be effective in modem society
On several occasions throughout the day, delegates highlighted
the need to ensure that this consultation process will be taken
seriously and that an implementation plan will also be put in
All the discussion and feedback from all the groups will be collated
by the DPSG and a revised Pastoral Strategy Document will be published
in the autumn and presented to the bishop.
The new document will also attempt to take account of all the
feedback, reports and correspondence received from individuals,
groups, parishes and area meetings during the consultation process.
The DPSG will endeavour to reconcile all the views expressed and
do justice to the amount of work which so many parishioners and
priests have put into considering the draft. The revised document
will also be circulated widely in the parishes when it is published.
Another meeting with the clergy of the diocese is planned for
October at the request of the clergy This meeting will focus on
the implications of the pastoral strategy for the lives and work
of the priests of the diocese.
It is hoped to have the revised document, which will include
an implementation plan, available before the end of 2004.
Report compiled By Fr. Tom Hayes, chair DPSG
full text of the draft Pastoral Strategy Document and other relevant
material is available on the Cork and Ross website: www.corkandross.org
Updates will be uploaded as they become available.
can email the DPSG at: firstname.lastname@example.org
and uploaded to the web by Peter Scanlan 18-7-04