Lay Involvement in Parishes – ACI Pilot Study

ACI pilot study highlights serious concern about active lay involvement in parishes and calls on the Irish bishops to commission a countrywide survey to identify the key issues prior to holding a national synod to discern the way forward for the church.

The Association of Catholics in Ireland (ACI) has carried out a pilot study among members to explore the extent of lay leadership in the Catholic Church and the role that the laity plays in parish leadership. The pilot study enquired into the role of pastoral councils; the prevalence of adult faith formation; the extent of family catechesis; and the source of and the reading of the Prayers of the Faithful at Masses.

The study was conducted on an all-island basis across 36 parishes.
Highlights include:
67% had parish pastoral councils but 54% regarded them as ineffective;
only 41% had adult faith development activities, though limited;
50% reported no encouragement for family catechesis;
only 52% had lay-led prayer services in the absence of a priest;
lay parishioners prepared the Prayers of the Faithful for Mass in only 17% of parishes but were read by laity in 54% of parishes.

ACI calls on the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference to commission a countrywide comprehensive professionally designed and administered survey with a view to identifying the key issues which will have to be addressed to ensure the survival of the Christian ethos in parishes across the country in the context of the diminishing numbers of priests and an ageing cohort of lay faithful attending church on a regular basis.

A full Diocesan Synod should be carried out in every Diocese across the country. The natural ‘next step’ would be to call a National Synod with the full involvement of the baptised lay faithful to discern a way forward which will seek to guide the church in Ireland in the years ahead, with the blessing and support of the Holy Spirit.

Download the Pilot Study here

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  1. Donal Dorr says:

    The full pilot survey is very interesting and valuable. The recommendations are very relevant. Congratulations to the ACI group.

  2. William Herlihy says:

    I agree completely with Donal @1
    I see one big problem i.e. the Clergy:
    In my experience, reform is completely dependant on the attitude of the Clergy.I will give just two examples:
    In my Parish the P.P. refused to allow a note in the Parish news-letter regarding an up coming Alpha Course, his reason”it was not Catholic”,yet a Catholic Bishop in another Diocese, has recently asked if an Alpha Course could be run in every Parish in the Diocese.
    The Curate likes to walk around dressed in his soutane,he generally likes to talk down to people from the Pulpit,recently he gave a homily in which he said and I quote “If people do not like the rules of the Catholic Church,they have a choice,go out and close the door after them.
    There were Parents and their young children at the above.
    Some chance of reform in my Parish !!!!.

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