At 7.00pm Mass on 31 March, in the Cathedral of Saint Eunan and Saint Columba in the heart of Letterkenny, Bishop Alan McGuckian SJ launched ‘Forward Together/Ar Aghaidh le Chéile’ a new Pastoral Plan for the Diocese of Raphoe for the years 2022 – 2024.
Bishop McGuckian recommended the plan to the faithful of the diocese with the conviction that it will foster a truly synodal spirit of cooperation between priests and people in the parishes and across the diocese.
At the launch of the pastoral plan the Bishop of Raphoe said, “A priority for us in this first year will be the training and formation – or the renewal – of effective Parish Pastoral Councils in as many parishes as possible. As bishop I have relied greatly on the support and hard work of our interim Diocesan Pastoral Council to bring our plan to this point. I can see what a gift a good Pastoral Council can be.”
Speaking on the importance of faith formation for children and young adults, Bishop McGuckian said, “It is essential for the missionary outreach of the diocese that we form ourselves in a deep knowledge of the faith. Only people who have come to know Christ deeply, as He reveals Himself in Word and Sacrament, will be able to proclaim Him effectively to others. The Plan proposes a renewal of faith formation across the ages with an emphasis on children and young adults.”
Bishop McGuckian spoke of the reality of parishes having to face the issue of declining numbers of priests. He said, “The future decline in number of priests is a big worry for many people as they worry about the effects of this on their own areas. We will have to face into the realities as we find them with hope in God and an openness to His will. It is important that we be open to change but that people know that they are key to the process. The formation of Parish Pastoral Councils and other councils will be central to this.”
In conclusion Bishop McGuckian said, “The plan is only a start, and I invite you to reflect deeply on it, to ask yourself what the Lord is saying to you in it and then to be charitably stubborn in your insistence that we all work with it and put it into effect”.