Today [5 February 2006] Cushla Quigan is being installed and prayed for as the pastoral leader of this parish. She has responded to God’s call – she will work in collaboration with Monsignor Charles Cooper here and in San Antonio’s, Eastbourne.
God’s glory goes with Cushla as the pastoral leader in this pastoral area as she leads you and helps you to discover the presence of the living God.
Cushla will be working on liturgy – ensuring that the Eucharist and other liturgies are celebrated, encouraging parishioner involvement, working with the liturgy committee, helping people to see that liturgy is not just what we think is nice, but that it is the Church at prayer.
Cushla will work with you to provide opportunities to develop your prayer life. As she works with Monsignor Charles she will make sure that the parish, the schools and families become ‘schools of prayer’ – the aim of all prayer being to help everyone to ‘fall in love with God’.
She will work to build this community, with the Trinity as the model of Christian life. The life of the Trinity is the source and inspiration of all our relationships and all forms of Christian community. Part of her task will be to help you to use your gifts in different aspects of parish life.
She will encourage you to create welcoming and open relationships in the parish and the wider community, and promote close collaboration between parish and school.
Cushla is responsible, with Monsignor Cooper, to form the people of this parish, making sure that there are opportunities to hear God’s Word, to listen and to grow as disciples of Jesus – to form people for mission – the mission of making Jesus known and loved, of taking the gospel and the person of Jesus to wherever you live, work, socialise and recreate.
Every person, who teaches, whether priest, religious or lay person, teaches in the name of the bishop. It is my responsibility to make sure that there are sacramental and catechetical programmes and opportunities to learn about faith. Today I entrust this responsibility to Cushla and Monsignor Charles.
All the tasks of parish life belong to all, but need leaders – liturgy, spiritual life, community, formation, mission catechesis, pastoral care, communication and administration. These show us that the gospel still happens today.
Jesus still takes us by the hand and helps us up. Jesus continues to care for those who suffer.
Jesus still preaches as he did in the synagogues. The only difference is that today he does it through us.
God has been guarding every thought, God has been heeding every tear, God has been noticing every joy as the archdiocese has worked towards the establishment of pastoral areas and the employment of lay leaders.
I assure you that there have been many thoughts about this day. There have also been tears and a great deal of joy. God has and will always heed all our thoughts, tears and joys.
The journey to this day, to install lay pastoral leaders in our parishes began long before the Archdiocesan Synod in 1998 when it was decided that lay people should be fully trained and prepared to lead our parishes. In this case it began when Cushla Quigan was baptised. Anyone baptised belongs to Jesus who died and rose for us. Each of us decides how we live out that relationship.
This began for Monsignor Charles, too, when he was baptised – not when he was ordained. He was ordained for sacramental ministry – because of his baptism – he will continue to provide that here, but their call, your call and my call to ministry, began the day we were baptised. We simply have different ways of using our gifts in the service of the Church and the gospel.
Please welcome and support Cushla in using her gifts.
Remember Pope Benedict reminded us in his first encyclical that ‘God is Love’. We are escorted into the future by God who is love.
Each of us stands at the gate of tomorrow, facing the future. At times, we have walked in wonder and awe; at other times, we have moved along in the flood of fear.
Looking back, we may recognise that amid the joys and struggles of this journey, we have been companioned by a grace-full presence that has held us together and led us on.
The future may awaken an excitement, an energy full of hopes, visions, and dreams. Fortified with focused fires of determination and commitment, we boldly embrace the challenges of change.
Dauntlessly we engage all our energies to effect transformation. Hope is high as we face the obstacles, knowing in faith that we will be led and companioned there.
In faith we know that we are always companioned by God who is Love.