More than 300 people from the twenty-three parishes of the diocese of Achonry gathered on February 17th in the Cathedral of The Annunciation and St Nathy, Ballaghaderreen. The occasion for this gathering was a commissioning, by Bishop Paul Dempsey, of parish pastoral councils from around the diocese.
It was edifying to see so many people gathered for this moment of acceptance. In accepting the commissioning, the members of the parish pastoral councils embraced the synodal pathway that encourages us to walk together on the road of faith.
Bishop Paul spoke to those gathered about the challenge and opportunity presented. A challenge to work together and an opportunity to reach out to our brothers and sisters, inviting them to a place of involvement, soul searching and shared commitment.
Drawing heavily from the writings of Pope Francis and the late Pope Emeritus Benedict, Bishop Paul encouraged all assembled to have courage, vision, determination and imagination in the sharing of the Gospel message in our day. This courage, he pointed out, may well call us to do things differently and to explore fresh avenues in the pursuit of evangelisation.
The ceremony of commissioning took place in the setting of the Mass and all members of parish pastoral councils were invited to reflect on a series of questions around their role. Asked if they were willing to assume the role, they replied “I am”, alongside an invitation to all gathered to pray for the guidance of parish pastoral councils.
A representative of each parish pastoral council was presented with a candle, bearing the Bishop’s Coat of Arms, to be used during prayer time at parish meetings. This gesture captured the two-fold desire to link the parishes of diocese in prayer and to share the light of faith.
Training sessions are currently being arranged for the parish pastoral councils and these will take place in the coming weeks.