A coordinated pastoral plan, along a common line, but which allows space to set priorities which remain faithful to the spirit, locality and life of each parish, is how Bishop Noel Treanor described the new pastoral plan for the Diocese of Down and Connor.
Yesterday, Bishop Treanor was among 1,800 people from the diocese who
gathered at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast to launch a pastoral plan as
part of the Living Church Congress.
The plan is the fruit of three years of meetings with lay people,
clergy and religious in parishes, as well as with university students
and groups of all kinds.
“(We) started with a listening process. The purpose of this meeting
(at Waterfront Hall) is to make the plan known to those who will carry
it out in their parishes,” Bishop Treanor told CatholicIreland.net. “We want to build a culture of creative co-responsibility in our parishes and in our diocese.”
The consultation for the Living Church Congress with 1,700
young people who received confirmation this year and a further 1,800 at
the very public Waterfront Hall in Belfast was followed by in the
evening by ‘Celebration of Faith’ starring The Priests.
“Like all Christians we have to account publicly about the faith that
is within us and that motivates us and inspires us,” said Bishop
He said the message and the location is timely given the recent words
of Pope Francis and his predecessor Pope Benedict who spoke of bringing
faith into the public space.
“The response of so many people by attending here today indicates
that we all sense both a need for an event like this and its timeliness
in this 21st century when there are processes moving in our world and in
our church which are calling us to renew together our Church and our
The pastoral plan contains the objectives of the Diocese of Down and Connor and the steps needed to meet them.
“I hope this programme will energise our parishes and provoke
creative imagination so that each parish will realise it, along a common
line, but in ways particular to the spirit and the locality and life of
each parish,” the Bishop said.
“So (there is) co-ordination of pastoral response, of creating an
open and transparent church, with space for each parish to give priority
to what it considers is necessary in its place and its time.”
On a practical level each parish will establish a parish council and a
There will be ministries and assistant ministries to
support the dwindling number of priests.
Parishes will activate a
culture of volunteering.
“(Men and women) will give time to make of our Church a living
vibrant Church in every parish, every glen in County Antrim and every
mountain and hill in County Down, in every town and village and cities
Belfast and Lisburn,” Bishop Treanor said.
A special programme will be launched in January 2014 for the young people who will receive the sacrament of Confirmation.
A smaller public event described as a ‘faith forum’ will be held in
about 12 months’ time where people will come together to discuss an
issue of faith or society in the light of faith and human experience.
Progress on the pastoral plan will also be assessed during the next year or two.