ACP West Priests’ Meeting,
Wed 08 March 2017,
McWilliam Park Hotel, Claremorris, Co Mayo
SUMMARY: c 60 priests present from Tuam, Achonry, Killala and Elphin.
Brendan Hoban welcomed all. Michael Gilroy chaired the meeting.
There were 23 contributions from the floor.
Among the issues:
Fears: More workloads and clustering won’t work. We need to be able to say no, to bishops and people. Too many church ‘things’ remove us from the community.
Bullying by bishops. We are not trusted.
Ongoing scandals – today it’s the Tuam babies, something else tomorrow – this is draining and wears you down. Alongside scandals we also alienate people, especially those who are most supportive, e.g., a male only deaconate being proposed for Tuam.
Retirement: ACP should assist priests about to retire. (Excellent weeklong retirement course in Stirling, Scotland, according to one priest.) Retirement does not mean administering two or three parishes!
Leadership: We are supposed to be leaders, yet we have no training or supports. We know the theory but the practice is different. There is a need for pastoral leadership. A need for co-responsibility in parishes. Too much is expected of PPs, from vetting to safeguarding to finance. We need a new church model – a community of believers. Change will come from the young, not us. ACP needs to ENVISION a way forward for the church. We need a vision like Pope Francis. We need small Gospel-hungry groups.
Supports: Circles of Healing available. More local and cross-diocesan meetings needed from the ACP. They afford men the chance to meet and talk face to face.
Hopes: Need to respect differences at all levels. Need to pursue the bishops for ACP conversation. We need to listen more.
Other: Priests from abroad working in Ireland need help. (There is an acculturation training course in Kimmage Manor, Dublin.)