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Changes in the Pastoral Area – Message from the PPC

Over the past number of years the impact of the reducing number of priests has had its effect not only in the diocese of Dublin but also across the country. The number of priests reaching retirement age far exceeds the number in our seminaries preparing for the priesthood. Add into this those who become seriously ill and unable to minister, it is simple to see that the numbers of priests available to serve our needs will continue to reduce. As it is in this parish we are dependent on priests willing to work beyond their retirement age, for which we thank them.

The numbers of people participating in our weekend liturgies is reducing. We have seen a 40% decrease in regular attendance at our weekend Masses over the past 10 years. Over the past 12 months the Parish Pastoral Councils of Greystones and Kilquade have been considering how best to meet these challenges.

We worked on the basis
  • that there is a need to provide for our community who continue to attend mass and the Sacraments.
  • there is a need to create a welcome and an openness to those joining our community in the new homes blossoming across our area.
  • finally there is a need to consider ways of reducing the workload on our priests.

Our pastoral area consists of:

  • 7 Churches where there is at least one Mass each weekend giving us 12 Masses each week-end.
  • We have up to 6 Baptism Ceremonies each month.
  • There are weddings and funerals on Saturdays through the year.
  • In addition, there are the Annual Feast Days and First Communions and Confirmations.

This is a large workload for our current priests.

Looking towards the next 5 – 10 years, the diocese is working on the basis of providing no more than one active priest per parish. These are challenges we need to address, but it is not a bad news story.

We are a vibrant parish who come together in various ways and various times over the year to celebrate our faith in our living and active God. We have an increasing population in our parishes. We are seeing new primary and secondary schools being built and, importantly, we have enthusiastic priests and lay people available to help us as we move forward together.

As part of our planning over the past year, we have been asking questions and listening.  In the past months we have listened to those young families preparing for the sacraments in the coming year. We listened to them share on their experiences of church and their ideas on how to help them to engage more fully.

Some changes are already in place:

  • The words of welcome at our weekend Masses delivered by the minister of the Word.
  • Notices for the week ahead brought to our attention by lay people
  • There is a group of people who write our Prayer of the Faithful each week as a response from within our community to the readings we engage with on a Sunday.
  • We have a lay led Liturgy of the Word on Wednesday mornings in Greystones.
  • Our new Funeral Ministry teams are growing in confidence.
  • We have Children Liturgy of the Word groups operating every Sunday at two of our Masses with an average of 50 children taking part each Sunday.
  • We have had lay led liturgies of Word and Communion on occasional Sundays where there was a priest unavailable at short notice.
The next stage is to try to address the decline in our congregations at Sunday liturgies. Initially we intend to concentrate our resources on three of our Sunday masses, two in Greystones, and one in Kilcoole. With this in mind from the First Sunday of Advent this year, the 2nd December, we plan to change the weekend Mass schedule in the Pastoral Area:
  • Sunday Mass in St. Anthony’s, Kilcoole will be the 10:30am Mass.
  • The 11am and the 12:15pm Masses in Holy Rosary will be amalgamated into a single Mass with a new time of 11:30am
  • The Sunday evening 6:30pm Mass will move from St. Anthony’s in Kilcoole to Holy Rosary church, Greystones.
  • The 6pm Saturday evening mass in Holy Rosary and the 10am Sunday morning mass in Blacklion remain unchanged.

The purpose of these changes is to enable us to focus on and develop the liturgies of these specific Sunday Masses in order to include a wider group of participants, including families and youth, while continuing to meet the needs of our existing congregation.

We understand that these changes impact each of us in different ways. We will have an open meeting on the evening of Wednesday the 14th Nov. 8pm in Kilian House Family Centre, Greystones, to enable further discussion and clarification on this.

We intend to monitor the effectiveness of these changes regularly and modify as we go.  We will hold a review before Easter 2019 and report back to you after Easter on progress.

This is an opportunity that we have, as a people of faith, to deal with real problems that are likely to increase. Doing nothing is not an option.

We can develop our liturgies and build on our current foundations so as to grow our living church, confident in the certainty that these problems can be addressed.  We need to re-engage our youth with the great joy of the Christian message of love.

Let us will finish with a short quote from a prayer of Saint Oscar Romero. The full text is below:

“This is what we are about:

We plant seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.”

Liam McCabe & Rachel Kerrigan, Parish Pastoral Council Chairpersons

Romero Prayer – A Future Not Our Own

It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of

the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.

that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection.

No pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No programme accomplishes the church’s mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,

We may never see the end results,

We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.

This is what we are about:

We plant seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying

an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.

but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

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