Some parishioners have been meeting on a regular basis for the past few years and together with Fr. Egan and Fr. Dunne have put in place various events, particularly the special Masses such as for children baptised each year. Other events included the celebration of the bi-centenary of Boherlahan Church, pilgrim walks, townlands’ participation in the Year of the Family Masses, with a cup of tea in the Parish Hall afterwards, and a very well received mulled wine reception in the Parish Hall after Christmas Eve Mass. Members of the choir took part in the diocesan, Munster and national choirs during the various events organised for the visit of Pope Francis. All of these have helped to enrich the experience of faith and Church in our lives and helps build a sense of community.
Concern has been growing with regard to the drop off in practice and attendance at Church services and in the number of vocations to the religious life. The reasons of course are many and varied but should we just accept it as inevitable or see ourselves as having a role in reversing this trend? Do we value our Christianity?
Several initiatives have been undertaken in the country including:
— At Cashel and Emly Diocesan level, a review group of lay and clergy with various areas of expertise set up and put in place an Action Plan from 2020 onwards.
— From this, Parishes were asked to send some parishioners who would train as facilitators to help in facilitating groups for a listening initiative.
— At Parish Level – a Listening Process. Parishioners were invited to attend and share their ideas on a Church that is relevant for the world in which we live. There was a good response to these meetings with varying attendances from parish to parish.
— The feedback was collated at Diocesan level and the results published.
— Parishes were asked to review the results.
— A Deanery meeting took place in Holycross in May, the purpose of which was to have a response to this review. Our Deanery area comprises the parishes of Boherlahan-Dualla, Moycarkey-Two Mile Borris, New Inn-Knockgraffon, Knockavilla-Donaskeigh, Golden-Kilfeacle, Holy Cross-Ballycahill, Clonoulty-Rossmore and Cashel-Rosegreen.
As several of the parishes had not met to do the review, the meeting was unsatisfactory. However, Boherlahan Dualla had met on two occasions and had a response prepared — details of this response are available in another article on this parish website. This was submitted to Fr. Martin Hayes, the co-ordinator of the whole programme. A presentation of the response of the Diocesan Priests to a questionnaire (different questions to what laity had been asked) gave an insight into their thoughts about the type of Church that will be there in the future. The concern and focus is therefore: “A Model of Church in Future”.
Further meetings in our own parish took place in July, September and October.
Every parishioner is welcome to be part of the Parish Renewal group and share ideas.
The July meeting began a process of what we as a parish would undertake – what we would see as feasible in the immediate and longer term future to have a more relevant Church for today’s world.
In general, the main discussion focus was on the reality of today’s Church – the numbers attending Mass; how to reach out to the community, whose reality is that of extremely busy lives and in a world in which Sunday is taken up with sports and other events. The huge input by so many younger parents as wonderful community activists is recognised.
Ardmayle Cemetery Mass:
Greater involvement of the laity in Masses – at a practical level, at Ardmayle Cemetery Mass on 15th August, families bereaved during the previous year would be asked to do readings, Prayers of the Faithful, sing Responsorial Psalm (if a family member available), bring up Gifts, and read a reflection.
Walking in the footsteps of the past. For example, pupils taken on walk along part of the Mass paths at some specific time or occasion. Select one or two other appropriate events for parishioners in general.
Having discussions after Mass — This topic stimulated a lively discussion:
— Proposed that these take place on one Sunday each month after Mass. The possibility of getting people to come to a meeting during the week is remote but a possibility for 15 minutes once a month.
— Group size of 10-14 preferable. If more stay, have 2-3 groups.
— This would require discussion facilitator/s to encourage participation, to ask open questions and allow all attendees play a part.
— The question of training facilitators to lead these discussions suggested as necessary and important. Skills to enable meaningful exchange and help people feel comfortable with the process.
— What should talks be about? The original idea was that it was to help people engage more with faith and adult understanding of our Church as participants rather than just listeners.
— Condense central message into quotes and hope that in scattering some seeds, they may have an impact.
Report from Ardmayle Mass:
— Thank you to all who participated and decision to repeat for other special Masses.
— Suggested that these public occasions are an opportunity to highlight the importance of more parishioner involvement in the Parish Renewal Team.
— With a view to implementing some ideas discussed, a decision was made to include lay participation in presenting the Offertory Gifts every Sunday from October.
Mission Sunday, 20th October:
— Suggestions for Mission Sunday included a Pilgrim Walk that Pat Maher would organise.
— Other upcoming Masses are 6th October, Day for Life and last Sunday focuses on Migrants.
— School Opening Mass at 10.00am and Fr. Egan also spoke about the possibility of a special Mass for children who have started their primary schooling.
Listening Process Update:
The next meeting will be held in Holy Cross Community Hall on Thursday 10th October for Cashel Deanery, beginning at 7.30 p.m.
—Priorities include a discussion on Model of Church for the future
—Support and action plan for Parishes from 2020 onwards.
Diocesan Training: 4th November 2019 – Pastoral Strategy Group:
Our meeting made two suggestions on areas they felt are important and should be included if possible.
— Training to help our own Faith Formation
— Training people to be able to facilitate.
Also at parish level:
— Set up a WhatsApp group to include names of those who attended Listening Meetings to see if there are some who would like to be part of the Parish Renewal Team.
Deanery Meeting, 10th October, Holy Cross.
— 14 parishioners attended.
— Parish asked to give a report on our Review of discussion of Listening Process.
All parishes divided into groups to discuss report and to listen to the progress being made in other parishes – some interesting information gathered from this – eg. At least one parish has organised sub-committees to take charge of different elements –
readers and other rotas
planning for the future, etc.
— A report on a further questionnaire given to the clergy – this gave a good insight as to the personal response of priests on their experience of living through change and their willingness to see a new Church emerge with full participation by all members of Church.
— A short video on the Seinn Choir – 10 secondary schools participate currently and will perform again in November with inclusion from parish choir members.
— Dates given for the forthcoming Diocesan events.
The agenda included:
— Special Masses
— Youth and Family
The focus for now and the future is being realistic about not having a priest in parishes, but Church – both building and faith community – will still be there. This situation requires training for new roles – the priest having trust in handing on responsibility and lay people willing to take on both responsibility and involvement in new roles.
Our role at present is to plant seeds of hope and look at a 10 year plan.
On a practical level for the New Year, some suggestions were made:
— Within the Liturgy, the laity take on Prayers of the Faithful;
— Have some further mission walks with perhaps some stops for a little reflection on the journey;
— Look at Church History – early Church was much like the situation we find ourselves in today – this discussion led to a suggestion to do a Time Line of the Church through the Ages. Our knowledge of Church history and development is extremely scanty – by doing something like this, we can see that there were many times in history when the Church was struggling.
— A festival Mass to celebrate 2020, the Time Line could be shown on a big screen and celebration would include barbecue/ picnic similar to 200th anniversary of building of the Parish Church.
— A seminar.
— Lay participation in November Mass for the Dead.
— Carol Service again this year – perhaps even in the Hall.
— Mulled wine in the Hall after Christmas Eve Mass. Dualla Hall might be available by then, so this could also take place there.
— Choir/organist in Dualla/community singing.
Monday, November 4th from 7.30 to 9.00 p.m. — Leadership Training to be given by Eamonn Fitzgibbon and Rose O’Connor in St. Patrick’s College. Parishes invited to send minimum of 8.
Thursday, November 7th 7.30 — Seinn Choir rehearsal in Bohernanave Church.