Clogher bishop attends ACP meeting

A meeting of Clogher ACP took place in Clones on the 19th September. Fifteen priests attended including our Bishop Liam. There was one apology.
Once again much of our meeting centred on questions around our identity, not just as Clogher ACP or as members of the ACP, but more critically our identity as Priests. We recognised the great crisis that Priesthood is going through today, and we acknowledged the definite need for greater clarity on our role as Priest in today’s society, otherwise we are going down a confusing road.
As Clogher ACP we wondered who we are and who we represent. Yet we are developing our own identity and any initiatives undertaken or reflections shared are offered to those who choose to attend and so we are not as such representative of all Priests within the Diocese. But the door of Clogher ACP is open to everyone as a group in which to discuss clergy concerns, clergy needs, that is our remit to date.
While Vatican II addressed who the People of God are and the Priesthood of the baptised, and also the role of bishops, there was a serious deficiency in its view of the Ministerial Priesthood.  How much do we depend on the people’s perception of what we should be?
We know that if we are to be taken seriously as Priests, and if our message is to be taken seriously, we must begin to ask ourselves some fundamental questions like, what is this vocation, this lifestyle that we are promoting? What is it I believe in? Why do I believe? Who is God to us? “Who do people say that I am?” These questions should help us claim our identity, our sense of ministry, our foundational faith in Jesus Christ. Sadly as a body of men, we do not operate at this level of reflection, yet. And if we continue to be uncertain about our identity as Priests, how can we expect others to follow us in this vocation?
We also recognise that the days of using out-of-date, out-of-touch language to describe Priesthood are now at an end, ‘ontological change’ means very little in this emerging time of labour, and while we may not know what is going to be given birth to, we know that it has to be a Priesthood that is centred upon service and equality, and above all else it has to be built upon a listening to the ‘People of God’, if any new vision, any new identity is to emerge, for the days of ‘Father knowing best’ are now long gone.
While we know that God speaks though the scriptures, tradition and the magisterium, God also speaks through the people, but sadly effective structures are not there at national or diocesan level for this kind of conversation leading to collaborative ministry to take place.
While we do not want the standoff of Austria to become ours, we still recognise that some of the presumptions of the past 40/50 years cannot now be taken for granted. Anything that rules out conversation on issues like celibacy and a male-only Priesthood, we can no longer presume all this as we struggle for this new identity.
There was a widely shared view that, at diocesan level, we do not meet often enough or at all to discuss our mission, our business as priests.  We sense our need to meet more often at a deeper level to help us find again who we are as ministers of God, because in an ever growing secular society, many of us have lost our confidence in what we need to say and what we now believe.
With regards Pastoral Supervision/Reflection groups, we felt that this particular type of forum could help bring us to greater clarity about our identity, and our role as priests. Our next gathering on Wednesday 28th November will be given over to information and steps towards establishing of these groups.
We decided again that as Clogher ACP our regular meeting would be on the last Wednesday of every second month.

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  1. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Elijah finally got to the cave near the top of Mt Horeb for his EGM with Yahweh Sabaoth. Portlaoise and CityWest were all booked out that weekend with weddings gay and straight, civil unions, Stag & Hen dos, and 1st & Last Communion extravaganzas with golden calves and all the frills and trimmings.
    “Quo vadis?” says Yahweh. Like all budding canon lawyers He liked to impress His pupils with the odd Latin tag.
    “Yahweh,” says Eli, “I’m the last of my kind. They’ve wiped out the rest and they’re coming for me too. Yourself and myself are the only ones left still true to the Spirit & Tablets of Sinai II. Tell me: Where do we go from here?”
    “There’s a book in that,” says Yahweh cryptically, “if you’d only sit down and write it.”
    Elijah was persistent. “What I want to know is: Can I Stay in Qahal Yahweh?”
    “There’s another one you could try on the Columba Press – sure, that crowd’d print anything with a question mark in it. What sort of prophet are you anyway without a book to your name?” And with that Yahweh turned on His heel and passed by.
    The mighty wind from the west nearly lifted Elijah out of his standings – but no sign of Yahweh.
    The earthquake from the centre rippled southwards – still nothing.
    Fire ripped through the Regency, then west and south – the Lord of Hosts was engaged elsewhere.
    And then a still small voice, like a gentle breeze, almost a silence emanating from around Clogher and Clones just kept on echoing, repeating and reporting every couple of months, pursuing its own identity in search of new vision and sense of ministry. Now if only every other diocese in the Armagh province could discover a similar low-key but persistent ACP voice, wouldn’t all be well?
    Not sure which elephants they found in the parochial house livingroom in Clones the other week, but as usual it seems Bishop Liam’s presence didn’t stop his fellow priests naming them and mucking them out. Even a single elephant can make a helluva mess on a nice livingroom carpet.
    Meanwhile, Elijah was off with a new lease of life. Young Elisha tagged along with him pretty willingly. Someone else could do the ploughing of the hard stony soil of Monaghan’s drumlins.

  2. Ger Gleeson. says:

    Truly delighted that Bishop Liam attended. Hopefully other Bishops will attend upcoming meetings, and then they will fully understand that the ACP and their followers are at the heart of our Church.

  3. I am always very impressed too and delighted when I read that Bishop Liam attends the Clogher meetings.
    Eddie, you are always sound concerned about the lack of ACP activity in the Armagh Province. I wonder what’s goin on in my native dioocese of Raphoe. Every time I’m home the first question I ask any priest I meet is “Have you joined the ACP” and, you know, I get the impression that not many of them have unless, of course, they are just being very coy and why should they share that kind of classified information with me anyway. Hope to see you in the Regency next month, Eddie.

  4. Liked the report of the meeting of Clogher priests. Impressive. Well done

  5. Martin Murray says:

    Eddie, I don’t always get it, but the whole thing would be dull without your regular contributions. If the ACP or ACI ever get around to a newsletter or magazine, I hope they give the satricial column to you. Now I’m dreading your going to say something satirical about that 🙂 Anyway keep it coming.

  6. “What is it I believe in? Why do I believe? Who is God to us?” It’s really encouraging to see priests discussing these questions together, at a time when there must be a huge reluctance to switch off ‘magisterial autopilot’ (mere repetition of the formulae of the Catechism).
    Could I suggest, though, that we the people need to be discussing these questions too, with our clergy? There can be no ‘good news’ until we have come to some shared understanding of what it is.
    I am now convinced that the ‘good news’ has centrally to do with a power outside ourselves that wishes us well, seeks to heal our relationships and seeks to make us a real community. And by ‘us’ I mean all Christians and all humanity.
    May I suggest also that Clogher priests and bishop take time to discuss the mission of the whole people of God? We the baptised but unordained are fit for far more than passive reception of priestly ministry. How exactly is *our* priesthood to be realised? The ordained ministry will not be able to excite and mobilise us until it has a clear grasp of that.

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