The official launch of stage two of the ‘Placing Hope in Faith’ listening process in the Diocese of Killala took place yesterday evening, 28 February 2019, in the Newman Institute, Ballina, County Mayo.
In an effort to respond to contemporary challenges facing the Church, Bishop Fleming and priests of the diocese of Killala decided to ask the people what they thought and felt about Church matters. A steering committee was appointed in 2017, comprising two women and one man from each of the four deaneries in the diocese, five priests and Bishop Fleming. This decision acknowledged that the future of the diocese will be in the hands of ‘lay’ Catholics. The committee made a number of initial observations.
An analysis of priest numbers in the diocese concluded that 20 years from then (2037) a considered estimate is that there will be between three and six priests left in full public ministry in the 22 parishes of the diocese.
Mass attendance survey
In September 2017, on three consecutive weekends, the number of people attending Masses in every parish was noted. Practice in Killala was found to be running at an average of 30%.
Further surveys were undertaken to collate more information, and the findings were brought to an assembly in 2018.
“What do we do now?”
Up to the Assembly in July 2018, the focus was on listening to the people and getting their views on what the future of the parishes and dioceses would look like, particularly on what needed to be done now. After the delegates at the Assembly decided specific directions and approaches, they made three specific recommendations:
- appoint focus groups to implement the decisions made at the Assembly
- appoint moderators (or leaders) of the focus groups, and
- appoint a diocesan steering group to oversee the operation of the focus groups, to evaluate progress and to encourage all involved.
Ten focus groups have been themed as follows:
1. Family/Pastoral Care
5. Management of parishes
6. Lay participation
8. Women in the Church
9. Education in the faith
There are over 100 members in total in the ten groups.
The focus groups are expected to complete their deliberations by this December and the actual implementation of initiatives is planned for 2020.
- Bishop John Fleming is Bishop of Killala. The Diocese of Killala consists of 22 parishes and includes portions of counties Mayo and Sligo. Killala has a Catholic population of about 37,000 including 37 priests. Saint Muredach is the patron saint of the diocese. See killaladiocese.org
- The Newman Institute, Ballina, is a charitable organisation which works in conjunction with the Diocese of Killala. A core aim of The Newman Institute is to provide an opportunity for people to learn more about their faith through accredited and non-accredited faith formation courses. The Newman Institute also seeks to address the ongoing need for Adult Religious Education and Faith Formation in the Diocese of Killala and beyond.