Wednesday, February 12, 2014

New group aims to build fraternity among priests
The leader of a new fraternity for diocesan priests has denied that his organisation is in competition with the ACP  (Association of Catholic Priests).  

 “We are about fraternity among priests, not  building a rift between priests,” Fr  Gerard Deighan, Chairman of the Irish Confraternity of Catholic Clergy (ICCC) told

The new organisation had its first meeting in October 2013 in Knock, attracting around twenty-five to thirty priests. There was a great response at that moment of foundation.  

“We thought we would just meet once a year, but there was a huge enthusiasm to meet more regularly.”

The ICCC  is a private association of diocesan priests, open to all priests, clergy and bishops, with its own statutes. The group is characterised by three words: Fidelity, Fraternity and Formation.

“Our commitment is to be fully faithful to the teaching and discipline of the Church (fidelity),  be brothers to one another (fraternity), and when we  come together to always have input from an invited speaker to keep us up to date (formation),” Fr Deighan explained.

The idea of the confraternity came from similar priest confraternities in the English-speaking world – Britain, the US and Australia.  

Priests interested in joining can do so via the website  

Their first invitation then will be to the inaugural spring meeting of the ICCC  which takes place at the Knock House Hotel from Wednesday 12 March – Thursday 13 March 2014. 

Speakers at the event are Most Rev Philip Boyce, D.D., Bishop of Raphoe and  Rev Jerome Bertram, Cong. Orat. (Oxford). 

Fr Jerome Bertram regularly preaches retreats to religious communities in England as well as overseas.

He has published several books about prayer, the sacraments, and the spiritual life. His latest book, Jesus, Teach us to Pray is published by Ignatius Press.

The organisation has already doubled in size to about fifty priests, but Fr Deighan is not looking for “the mushroom effect”. 

“We’d prefer to start small and gradually build up,” he says.  “It is hard to have a ‘fraternity’ thing with a few hundred people!”

He says the confraternity is  different to the ACP which is more an advocacy group, although  there may be some overlap in membership between the ACP and the ICCC. 

“A number of priests would be signed up to the ACP who would not perhaps agree with all of what is being said by its leadership, but they have joined out of fear, to have support, because accusations are being made against them.”

Fr Deighan told that the biggest concern of diocesan priests was their “increasing workload in an increasingly secular society that no longer values faith as it used to.”

He said it was possible for a priest to go from “one year to another without meeting another priest in a meaningful way” and when priests did meet other priests, they were usually from the same diocese or deanery. 

“The good thing about the confraternity is that it involves priests from all over the country in a supportive encouraging and very joyful atmosphere.”

In 2015 an international gathering will bring together fraternity members for three days in Rome.

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