WelCom June/July 2022
Much of what the church has built up in Ireland over the last two centuries is crumbling before our eyes, says Galway’s new bishop.
But fresh opportunities are also presenting themselves, he maintains.
At his installation Mass, Bishop Michael Duignan (51) of Galway and Kilmacduagh dioceses highlighted the Church’s diminishing role in the Republic.
Many parishes ‘are struggling at so many levels to support a vibrant faith community’ despite ‘the great work done by generations of priests, religious and lay people’, he said.
There would be ‘a sense of genuine mourning’ in letting go of infrastructure, systems and pastoral practices that were beneficial in the past but now may ‘hinder rather than help the life of faith’, he told the 1400-strong congregation.
‘It is clear that in the future, we will be a smaller faith community as many no longer believe’ adding that at times ‘you might be inclined to think that faith in God, or friendship with Jesus or the living out of Christian wisdom is something that will soon be a thing of the past’.
Speaking after the ceremony, Dr Duignan said he did not intend to be pessimistic.
‘I believe there are a lot of structures that we need to move on from in order to develop new structures. It is rebirth, it is regrowth, it is a reality check.’
A decrease in the number of Masses offered by parishes was one change he highlighted and said it would allow for more holistic and spirit-filled liturgies.
‘People know change is coming, they know that the present way we are doing things won’t last forever and that there may be a better way of doing things,’ he said.
In his homily, Dr Duignan described the Irish church as standing at a ‘threshold moment’ and making a transition to the future.
‘Perhaps the Lord is asking us to throw out our nets in a different direction…in the direction of a new and profound re-evangelisation of ourselves,’ Bishop Duignan said.
He prayed the Church would build bridges not barriers and that it would reach out in compassion to aid those who find themselves in need. He also prayed that it would be ‘less afraid of those who see life differently from us’ and was aware of its own human weakness.
Sources: CNA News, Independent.ie