There have been a number of recent developments in the unfolding of the Diocesan Pastoral Plan; Forward Together, Ar aghaidh le chéile.
Diocesan Pastoral Council
This Bishop has commissioned a Diocesan Pastoral Council (DPC). This council has been in formation over the last year and has been busy with the Diocesan Synodal journey as well as the implementation the pastoral plan. The DPC members include clergy, religious and lay men and women from around the Diocese, committed to helping Bishop Alan bring the Diocesan plan to fruition.
The members of the Diocesan Pastoral Council are: Michelle Uí Churráin (Stranorlar Parish), Chair; Joe Conroy (Ballintra Parish) Vice-chair; Fr. Stephen Gorman, Secretary; Máire Ní Bhroin (Pároiste Gort a’ Choirce) Prayer Leader; Sr. Benedetta (Divine Mercy Centre, Letterkenny); Fr. Michael Carney; Fr. Danny McBrearty; Ann Mc Dwyer (Glenties Parish); Fr. Michael Mc Keever. Fr Niall Coll has been a member of the DPC and we will miss his presence and contribution but wish him every blessing as he moves to pastures new.
Director of Pastoral Renewal
The Diocesan Pastoral Council are delighted to announce the appointment of Mr. Brian O’Driscoll as Director of Pastoral Renewal in the Diocese of Raphoe. Brian will be based in the Pastoral Centre in Letterkenny and his role will be focussed on the implementation of the Diocesan Pastoral Plan together with Bishop Alan and the DPC. We are very much looking forward to bringing the plan to life throughout all the parishes in the diocese. Having Brian on board brings us another step forward on our journey. Go soirbhí Dia a shaothar!
Parish Pastoral Council Formation
The process of forming – and re-forming – Parish Pastoral Councils is underway, led by Jim Deeds. Parishes from five of the six deaneries have been invited to take part in the process beginning with three information sessions. The sixth deanery will begin the work in January. The response to the sessions has been very positive. The goal is to help us build vibrant, prayerful communities where the joy of the Gospel is experienced by everyone.
Bíodh Íosa inár gCroí-se agus téimis ar aghaidh le chéile.
Bishop McGuckain, SJ, Bishop of Raphoe has launched the new Diocesan Pastoral Plan 2022 – 2024 Forward Together / Ar Aghaidh le Chéile at a Mass in St Eunan’s Cathedral, Letterkenny on Thursday 31st March 2022.
Representatives from the Parishes of the Diocese were present and copies of the Plan were presented to each parish/ church area of the Diocese.
The Plan is available to download both in Irish and in English at the links below.
downloadable summary of the Plan is available below:
Statement regarding the launch from the Diocese of Raphoe
On Thursday 31st March at 7pm Mass in the Cathedral of St Eunan and St Columba Bishop Alan McGuckian launched Forward Together/Ar Aghaidh le Chéile, the new Pastoral Plan for the Diocese of Raphoe for the years 2022 – 2024.
A small group of priests, religious and lay faithful under the chairmanship of Fr Michael McKeever was working on the plan all through the pandemic. With support and facilitation from Jim Deeds they presented a draft document to the bishop in Summer 2021.
Bishop McGuckian recommended the plan to 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 the bishop pointed to three different dimensions under the headings of Structure, Mission and Planning.
“A key element in the structure of a synodal church will be well-formed Parish Pastoral Councils. For that reason 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 the plan to this point. I can see what a gift a good Pastoral Council can be.”
“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.”
“As regards out planning for the future the Plan will involve a serious review of the whole diocese on the basis of which we will have to discern how best to proceed into the future. We will want to do that in a prayerful, discerning way with our full emphasis on identifying the future into which God is calling us. 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.”
Plans aren’t made to sit on shelves and with that in mind the bishop pointed out that there is already a date in the diary for the parishes of the western deanery to come together and begin working towards the formation of new Parish Pastoral Councils. The emphasis in the Plan on faith formation for young people has already issued in a series of night of Prayer and Praise organised by Connor Duncan in the Diocesan Pastoral Centre.
“The Plan is only a start” the bishop said to the congregation in St Eunan’s Cathedral, “and I invite you 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”.