Tomorrow, Saturday 18 June, the National Pre-Synodal Assembly will take place in Athlone.  Following the largest consultation ever undertaken by the Catholic Church, the Assembly – which is not an end in itself – will mark a major milestone on the journey of the Synodal Pathway for Ireland. It will consist of a series of discussions on the findings of the synthesis documents submitted by the 26 dioceses across the island of Ireland. This Assembly is the conclusion of the first ‘listening’ phase of the Synodal Pathway, in which parishes held a series of gatherings over the last six months to hear the thoughts and concerns of those who replied to the invitation of Pope Francis to undertake a journey “for a Synodal Church [embracing] Communion, Participation, and Mission”.

In attendance in Athlone and Clonmacnoise tomorrow will be delegates from the 26 dioceses; Religious Congregations; representatives from other Catholic groups and lay ecclesial associations; members of the clergy; members of the Synodal Pathway Steering Committee and Task Group.

The Assembly will conclude with a prayer service in Clonmacnoise, the site that Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh describes as once being the “thriving epicentre of the Church of its time”. Speaking on ‘Morning Ireland’ on RTÉ Radio One, the Primate of All-Ireland suggested that, at Clonmacnoise, the delegates will be “saying farewell to a particular chapter in the life of the Church in Ireland” that has lasted some 150-200 years since Catholic emancipation. “There’s something new happening” he said, “it’s going to be different but it’s going to be alive with faith, and hope and love – that’s the message of the Gospel that we want to bring.”

To listen to the full radio interview, which includes Sister Nathalie Becquart, Undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, Baroness Nuala O’Loan and Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick, vice-chair of the Synodal Process click here.

ENDS