On Divine Mercy Sunday Bishop Fintan Monahan issued his first pastoral letter since becoming Bishop of Killaloe. The pastoral letter is entitled ‘The Diocese of Killaloe – A Welcoming People of God.’
Bishop Monahan began his letter, saying ‘Since my ordination as Bishop of Killaloe on September 25th last, I have experienced a great and much appreciated warm welcome by so many people in this expansive diocese. For this I am deeply grateful. I look forward to many happy and fruitful years of ministry in Killaloe.’
‘Already in the short time I have been in the diocese of Killaloe I have seen so many positive elements in the practice and celebration of the faith. These include youth ministry, vocations promotion, care and support of marriage, spirituality, liturgy, catechesis, Eucharistic Adoration, prayer groups, promotion of pilgrimage, support for the Missions, work with the poor & refugees, justice and peace, ecology and the protection of the environment. All this work involves great cooperation between clergy and laity, women and men in so many areas of diocesan life.’
Bishop Monahan wrote on his hopes for vocations, saying ‘I am so heartened that we have three students for the priesthood at present and others are in a process of discernment. It is also encouraging to witness the on-going work of the revamped vocations committee and so many other groups who are praying for and promoting vocations so diligently. May the Lord continue to bless them and all of us in this great work. It is up to us all to work together to encourage and foster a positive culture of vocations that we as a nation were so renowned for in times past.’
He also acknowledged the challenges facing the diocese, including ‘the decline in vocations, the expansive geography of the diocese, and the isolation of some rural and even urban parishes and clusters’, and the need for community led liturgies, saying that ‘one of the greatest challenges facing us, as the number of priests declines, is for individual parishes to continue as regular centres of prayer and worship on a daily and weekly basis. With that in mind, we are working to train and assist lay people of faith to be leaders of liturgical prayer in their local communities. We are inviting women and men to train, in accordance with national norms, so that they will enliven the liturgical life of their parishes and to lead liturgy in the absence of a priest. This training is for everybody currently involved in our parish liturgies; choir leaders, readers, Eucharistic Ministers, sacristans and priest. The primary aim is to enhance every liturgical experience in the parish and to ensure that it promotes the active participation of the people. Lay people will be carefully prepared to lead the liturgy of the Word along with other important ritual times such as bereavement ministry, sacramental preparation and parish animation ministry. The hope is that such trained personnel will become an integral part of the sacramental system as it is at present, while also being available to come to the fore independently in emergency or special circumstances.’
‘The diocese is working to ensure that even if the Eucharist is not always celebrated in the parish, that the gathering and welcome it represents will always be available to people who cannot travel further.’
He concluded, ‘In all of this we trust in the assistance and direction of the Lord to care for us and guide us and we leave it in his hands. “Glory be to God whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine”. Moladh go deo le Dia!’
To read the pastoral letter, see www.killaloediocese.ie.