Following on from meetings of Catholic lay people in Dublin, Cork and Galway promoted by the ACP, a very successful gathering of up to 60 people took place in Blarney on 9 January 2013 .
The meeting was facilitated by Daithi ó hAoidh, a member of Ballineaspaig Parish Faith in Action group. The aim of the meeting was to allow the Catholic faithful from the Blarney/Inniscarra area the opportunity to dialogue over their particular cares and concerns with regard to faith matters.
As it was an occasion for dialogue the attendees were formed into smaller groups and Daithi the question to them as to why they were here. There was a huge diversity of answers:
- People being curious
- A feeling of being disconnected and alienation from the Church
- Fears that the faith could be lost and concern about our young people.
- A sense of helplessness that lay people are not being listened to
- Upset that the teachings of Vatican 11 were not being implemented.
- Concern that no plans were being made for the future.
- A feeling of lack of leadership.
- Some women expressed feelings of being disconnected from the Church.
- Concern over lack of accountability at every level in the Church.
- Concern over the treatment of priests and the silencing of priests.
Added to all of this was the huge sense of energy and concern for the faith. People were interested and positive but were left frustrated. They wanted to contribute something however small.
After a very healthy and positive feed back, the groups were then asked what changes should happen? Here the answers were focused into a few main areas, firstly the areas of administration, people wanted more lay involvement at every level in the church from Parish to Diocesan to National level. Many were impressed by the structures of the Church of Ireland in terms of openness and approachability at all levels. The involvement should not be token involvement but real and meaningful. There should be a real connection between all existing groups and the clergy and a huge desire to connect with the new Bishop was felt. In the area of education it was felt that more should be done in the area of Bible study groups, adult faith development and liturgical formation. A hunger exists that is not being met at present. In the area of prayer people expressed an interest in more opportunities for different types of prayer. In the area of liturgy again, people felt a desire for more lay involvement with an emphasis on including young people. Some felt that some of the old traditional kinds of worship should be encouraged.
The feeling of the group was that the Church is now dealing with a well educated, well informed, articulate people and that they deserve to be treated as such.
The final part of the evening addressed the issue of what could be done and each group was asked to come up with three suggestions.
- Express our faith, give witness and continue to pray.
- To form ourselves into a group and to continue what has begun at this meeting.
- One woman offered to organise tea and biscuits after Mass.
- To organise to meet with priests and the new bishop to share the concerns and suggestions expressed.
- To explore the formation of Parish Pastoral Council.
- Get involved in local liturgy groups and help implement some of the suggestions made at the meeting.
The overriding feeling at the end of the meeting was that people were very pleased to have had this opportunity for dialogue about their Church and their Faith. There was a huge sense of desire and wish to be more actively involved in the life and future of the church. One comment stays with me from a woman who said ‘ she wanted herself and her children to feel proud of her Church’. It was decided to hold another meeting in early February.