Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tuam responds as number of priests fall by a third

The Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Michael Neary, is putting structures in place to cope with an expected 30 per cent reduction in the number of priests in the archdiocese.

Guidelines for future planning have been produced by a working group, set up by the archbishop after consultation with the priests, the Diocesan Implementation Group and the Council of the Laity, and pastoral councils throughout the diocese.

One resident priest will be maintained in each of the 55 parishes in the diocese, but in making future appointments, the archbishop will be guided by the expectation that by 2013 the number of priests serving in the diocese will drop from 102 to 70.

Among the proposals accepted by the archbishop is the grouping of parishes into clusters, with a convener appointed to manage each cluster.

The archdiocese will also explore the possible introduction of the Permanent Diaconate.

''It is of great importance that every member of every parish community become familiar with these proposals and respond generously, not only by accepting change, but also by taking a more active role in the building up of the Kingdom of God in their local parish community,'' said Archbishop Neary.

The archdiocese currently has over 600 lay members of pastoral councils taking part in an ongoing formation course, many parishes have baptismal teams in place and sacramental preparation programmes are now a regular feature of parish life.

A Diocesan Youth Council is engaging with young people across the diocese and the diocese now has a number of people working full time in areas of faith formation, liturgy, family Ministry and pastoral councils.

A summary of the working group's proposals accompanied a pastoral letter from Archbishop Neary which was read at all Masses throughout the diocese on the weekend of April 25-26.

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