Updated  18-Jul-2004 10:47 PM





An update
July 2004

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 0 2004.

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 beginning.

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 of it.

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 to change.

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 present.

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, be said.

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.


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 of all.

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.

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 place.


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

The 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.

You can email the DPSG at: future-plans@corkandross.org


Scanned and uploaded to the web by Peter Scanlan 18-7-04


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