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Diocese of GalwayKilmacduagh & Kilfenora

Deoise na GaillimheChill Mac Duach & Chill Fhionnúrach

Faith Community Areas: Meeting Reports

Published on 06/06/2023
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Faith Community Area Reports

The reports below contain parishioner input following the seven meetings of parish groupings in the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora over the months of May and June this year.

Claregalway, Oranmore/Maree, Shrule/Glencorrib

Barna/Furbo, Spiddal, Leitirmóir, Rosmuc
Bearna/na Forbacha, An Spidéal, Leitirmóir, Rosmuc (as Gaeilge)

Craughwell, Clarinbridge, Kinvara, Ballinderreen, Ardrahan, Kilchreest, Kilbeacanty/Peterswell, Gort/Beagh

St Joseph, Sacred Heart (Westside), Cathedral, Knocknacarra, Salthill, St Augustine, St Francis, St Mary (Claddagh), Hospital Chaplaincy, University Chaplaincy

Carron/New Quay/Noughaval, Ballyvaughan/Fanore, Ennistymon/Lahinch, Liscannor/Moymore, Lisdoonvarna/Kilshanny/Doolin/Toovahera, Kilfenora

Good Shepherd, Ballybane, Ballinfoyle, Castlegar, St Patrick, Renmore, Mervue

Moycullen, Oughterard, Killannin, Collinamuck, Glann

During May/June 2023, seven meetings of parish groupings in the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora took place. More than 400 parishioners from each of our parishes attended with their priests to hear input from Bishop Michael and to begin a facilitated discussion on the future of our parishes and our diocese.
“Creidim i mo chroí istigh gur bronnadh na laethanta grástúla seo orainn le go ndéanfaidh muid ár gcion. Is fúinne é na cinntí cearta a dhéanamh, cinntí misniúla le cúnamh Dé, a chuirfeas todhchaí nua glan ar fáil dúinn, athbheochan nua creidimh do na pobail chreidmheach go léir.”
– An tEaspag Micheál, Cruinnithe Paróistí, 2023
“I am convinced that these days are “our days” – graced days to “do our bit”, to make wise choices and brave decisions that will with God’s help secure a bright, albeit different, future for the faith and for our faith communities.”
– Bishop Michael, Parish Group Gatherings, 2023


Good evening and welcome! Thank you to the priests of this area and to all of you who have taken the time to attend. I would like to begin by (1) giving you a bit of background to the meeting, and (2) outlining what we might hope to get out of it.
Last May, on the day of my installation as Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora, I spoke about the current situation we find ourselves in as a faith community and expressed the hope that we would dialogue together – bishop, priests, religious and people – in order to plan for the future. Last November, I set up a small committee of priests to see how we might bring this idea forward. At the beginning of February, we began the process with a two-day meeting of the priests of the diocese at Spanish Point. At that meeting we agreed we needed to broaden the conversation and include the voice of our parishioners. As a result, we divided the diocese into seven groupings of parishes/chaplaincies and asked priests to invite a representative body of key parishioners to meet as we are doing this evening. This is just the beginning of a conversation: more dialogue and collective discernment will need to be undertaken as we move forward together.
Profoundly Positive about the Future
Let me preface what I am about to say by affirming that I am absolutely convinced that the times we live in are intensely blessed. Deep down, I am profoundly positive about the future of the Church. I believe that the Holy Spirit is powerfully active in our midst. Uprooting that which is no longer fruitful, planting new seeds, and pointing to new ways. My mother used to always say, “you do your bit and let God do the rest.” So what might be “our bit” when it comes to planning for the future of our parishes and our diocese?
Current Challenges
To throw the ball – let me paint a brief picture of the challenges of our current situation in 7 points.
1) For a variety of reasons, regular participation in our parishes has rapidly decreased over the last decade and looks likely to decrease even further into the future. While this is a reality in all our parishes, it is perhaps more obvious in small rural parishes than in larger urban ones.
2) For the most part, those participating regularly in the life of our parishes are advancing in age. It is a visible fact that there are fewer and fewer people in the pews between the ages of 20 and 50.
3) In many places, the decline in participation and the ageing of our congregations is resulting in a lack of volunteers and difficulty paying the bills.
4) At the moment, we do not have a single seminarian. Over the next twenty years or so we will be left with approximately 20 diocesan priests to serve 40 parishes and chaplaincies. At the moment, we have three parishes without a resident priest and more to follow?
5) There is only so much a single priest can do especially as we advance in age. Our hard-working priests have never had as much demands upon them. We simply cannot divide the same workload among fewer priests. Something has to give.
6) We do not have a long tradition of lay involvement and lay led faith communities; there is a great need for training and education so that laity can minister with insight and confidence.
7) While we need to celebrate Mass and the other sacraments and bury the dead, this will only maintain what we have and only for a limited time at that. Do we not need to focus on rekindling the faith, especially among the young and become more missionary in our practice?
“Freedom From” – “Freedom For”
 We owe a debt of gratitude to the selfless work done over the years by our priests, religious, and key lay people. I believe that changing circumstances now mean there are many structures and practices that have served us well for a long time but are now no longer as fruitful as they once were. Let me elaborate a bit. Do we need all the Masses we have at the moment? Does a priest need to do a lot of what he is currently engaged in – or could appropriately trained laypeople do some of it? What role should our Parish Pastoral Councils play in shaping the future? Will we be able to keep open all the churches that we now have? Are there things that we are currently doing that we need to “free ourselves from” in order to be “free for” something better? Would fewer Masses mean more people present, more people to take part and a more meaningful celebration for those who come? How might we ensure that our parishes are genuinely life-giving communities of faith rather than mere anonymous convenience stores where we go to pick up this or that spiritual product? Could appropriately trained lay people do a lot more? How are we going to train suitable lay people? Who will do it? How will we pay for it? What of our outreach and ministry to the next generation – young people and young families? Should we be focusing more on preparation for the sacraments? How can we have a more meaningful encounter with the bereaved, the sick, the poor, those on the margins of Church and society? We spend so much money on our buildings – by comparison how much money do we spend on people and faith enhancing initiatives? Would groups of parishes working more closely with each other and sharing resources mean that they could do more together than they might be able to do on their own? Ní neart go cur le chéile - there is a special strength when we come together with a common purpose.
Graced days to “do our bit”
Let me finish by repeating: I am not panicked or despondent. I am convinced that these days are “our days” – graced days to “do our bit”, to make wise choices and brave decisions that will with God’s help secure a bright, albeit different, future for the faith and for our faith communities. It is in this spirit that I welcome these gatherings. It is in this spirit that I hope we will all become involved in positively shaping the future not as passive spectators but as active participants. Thank you so much for being here.

Tráthnóna maith agaibh agus fáilte! Ár mbuíochas le sagairt uile an cheantair seo agus libhse atá sásta freastal ar an ócáid seo. Ba mhaith liom ar dtús míniú daobh céard a spreag mé tús a chur leis an bpróiseas seo agus léargas a thabhairt daoibh ar chuid de na cuspóirí a bheas againn.
Mí na Bealtaine seo caite, ar lá mo insealbhaithe mar Easpag na Gaillimhe, Chill Mhic Duaigh is Chill Fhionnuarach, labhair mé faoin staid ina bhfuil muid maidir le pobal creidmheach agus an dóchas a bhí agam go gcuirfí tús le comhrá nó agallamh liomsa mar Easpag, na sagairt, lucht Beatha rialta agus sibhse, an pobal, faoin mbealach is fear pleanáil don todhchaí. Mí na Samhna seo caite, bhunaigh mé coiste sagart le féachaint cén chaoi ab fhearr tabhairt faoin obair. Ag tús mhí Feabhra, cuireadh tús leis an bpróiseas nuair a tháinig sagairt na deoise le chéile do chruinniú a mhair dhá lá agus bhí an cruinniú seo again i Rinn na Spáinneach, Co. an Chláir. Aontaíodh nár mhór an comhrá a leathnú amach le go gcloisfí glór phobail na bparóistí. Mar thoradh air seo, roinneadh an deoise in seacht ngrúpa paróisteach agus socraíodh go mbeadh ionadaithe ó na grúpaí éagsúla seo. Níle anseo ach tús an chomrá, déanfar dianphlé ar go leor ceisteanna san am atá amach romhainn.
Dearcadh dearfach dóchasach maidir leis an todhchaí
Creidim gan dabht go bhfuil muid beannaithe i saol an lae inniu. I mo chroí isitgh, tá mé dóchasach dearfach faoi thodhcaí n hEaglaise. Creidim go bhfuil an Spiorad Naomh Fíorghníomhach inár measc. Creidim go bhfuil síolta nua á gcur, go bhfuil gortghlanadh ar súil agus mar thoradh air seo go bhfeicfear bealaí nua, cosáin nua, a theorós muid ar bhealach ár leasa. Deireadh mo mháthair: “ Déanadh tusa do chion agus lig do Dhia an chuid eile a dhéanamh” Ardaíonn sé sin an chéist mhór : Céard é ár gcion i gcomhthéacs na pleanála atá le déanamh maidir lenár bparóistí agus lenár ndeoise.
Na Dúshláin Reatha
 Seo anois seacht sampla de na dúshláin atá le sárú again, i mo thuairinse.
1. Ar chúiseanna éagsúla, tá meath tar éis teach tar rannpháirtíocht an phobail inár bparóistí le deich mbliana anuas agus tá gach cosúlacht ar an scéal gur in olcas atá an scéal ag dul. Cé gur fíor é seo maidir lenár bparóistí ar fad, tá sé an-fheiceálach ar fad sna paróistí beaga tuaithe i gcomparáid leis na paróistí cathrach.
2. Tá sé le feiceáil go suntasach go bhfuil na ronnpháirtithe atá gníomhach inár bparóistí ag dul in aois. Is minic an fhirínne searbh ach caithfidh muid aghaidh a thabhairt ar an bhfírinne sin: Is beag duine idir scór agus leathchéad bliain atá le feiceáil sna séipéil go rialta.
3. De thoradh an laghdú rannpháirtíochta agus an pobal ag dul in aois, tá laghdú ar ioncam na bparóistí agus laghdú orthu siúd a bhíodh sásta obair dheonach a dhéanamh.
4. Faoi láthair, níl ábhar sagairt amháin again. Tá ár gcuid sagart ag éirí sean. Sna fiche bliain amach romhainn, ní bheidh againn ach tuairim is fiche sagart deoiseach chun freastal ar cheathracha nó ar dhá scór paróiste gan trácht ar na seirbhísí séiplíneachta sna hospidéil agus an arm. Faoi láthair tá trí pharóiste againn gan sagart cónaitheach agus in olcas atá an scéal sin ag dul.
5. De thoradh ar a bhfuil ráite agam go dtí seo, tá ualach mór oibre ar chuile shagart faoi láthair. Tá athrú mór tar éis teach ar an saol i gcoitinne: caighdeáin níos airde, cúrsaí dlí agus ar uile. Don chéad uair ariamh, tá brú ollmhór ar ár gcuid sagart. Go simplí, ní féidir an t-ualach mór oibre seo a roinnt ar níos lú sagart. Níle sé inmharthanach.
6. Níl rannpháirtíocht tuatach mar thraidisiún again maidir le cur chin cinn an chreidimh, tá géarghá le hoiliúint agus le hoideachas le go mbeadh ról gníomhach ag tuataigh in obair eaglasta.
7. Cé go bhfuil tábhacht mhór le ceiliúradh an Aifrinn agus na sacraimintí agus fiú déileáil le sochraidí – ní foláir aghaidh a thabhairt ar athbheochan an chreidimh i measc na n-óg agus ní foláir cleachtas nua misineach a chothú.
Cur Chuige Nua
Tá buíochas ollmhór ag dul do na sagairt, lucht na beatha rialta agus do thuataigh a rinne obair na gcapaill le blianta fada anuas. Tá go leor de na struchtúir is na cleachtaí a bhí éifeachtach san am atá caite nach bhfuil chomh torthúil I saol an lae inniu. Cuirfidh mé mar seo é: An dteastaíonn na hAifrinntí ar fad atá againn faoi lathair? An bhféadfaidh níos lú oibre a bheith le déanamh ag an sagart- nó an bhfeadhfadh tuataigh a bheadh oilte tabhairt faoi chuid den obair seo? Cén ról a bheas ag Comhairlí Tréadach Paróistí i múnlú na todhchaí I gcomhthéacs comhpháirtíocht na sagart is na dtuatach agus iad ag obair as láimh a chéile?
An feidir linn na séipéíl ar fad atá againn faoi láthair a choinneáil ar oscailt? An féidir linn scaoileadh le cuid de na cúraimí atá againn faoi láthair le go mbeadh muid in ann tabhairt faoi rudaí níos fear- rudaí níos tothúla?
Mura mbeadh an oireach Aifrinntí againn, seans go mbeadh níos mó daoine I láthair, rud a chiallódh ceiliúradh sollúnta machnamhach do chuile dhuine. Cén chaoi gur féidir linn beocht nua spioradálta a dhúiseacht inár bparóistí? An bhféadfadh tuataigh a bheadh oilte ar obair eaglasta I bhfad níos mó a dhéanamh? Cén chaoi a ndéanfar an oiliúnt seo? Cé a dhéanfas í? Cén chaoi a n-íocfar as an oiliúint? Ar cheart dúinn díriú ar chlanna óga- ar dhaoine óga?
Tá dhá scór míle mac léinn ag freastal ar na hollscoileanna éagsúla i nGaillimh, cén bealach is fear a bheadh againn sagairt a chur ar fáil agus tuataigh chomh maith, chun tacú agus tógáil ar obair shéiplíneachta sna hollscoileanna seo?
Ar cheart dúinn a bheith ag díriú níos mó ar ullmhú do na sacraimnití? Cén chaoi gur féidir linn gaol níos doimhne a bheith again le lucht an dobróin, na heasláin, na boicht agus iad siúd atá scoite amach ón Eaglais agus ón tsochaí?
Caitheann muid an t-uafás airgid ar ár gcuid foirgneamh- I gcomparáid leis seo, cé mhéad airgid a chaitear ar dhaoine agus ar thionscnaimh athbheochana creidimh?
Deirtear nach neart gur cur le chéile! Nach bhféadfadh grúpaí de pharóistí a d’oibreodh as láimh a chéile I bhfad níos mó a bhaint amach agus iad ag roinnt acmhainní ar a chéile? B’fhearr i bhfad é seo ná iad ag obair ina n-aonar, i mo thuairimse.
 Mar fhocal scoir, níl mé éadóchasach nó in ísle brí faoi chúrsaí mar atá. Creidim i mo chroí istigh gur bronnadh na laethanta grástúla seo orainn le go ndéanfaidh muid ár gcion. Is fúinne é na cinntí cearta a dhéanamh, cinntí misniúla le cúnamh Dé, a chuirfeas todhchaí nua glan ar fáil dúinn, athbheochan nua creidimh do na pobail chreidmheach go léir. Is I gcomhthéacs an spioraid seo a chuirim fáilte roimh na cruinnithe seo. Tagaimis le chéile mar rannpháirtithe gníomhach mar ag deireadh an lae, is ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine.
Míle buíochas ó chroí libh as a bheith anseo. Nár lagaí Dia sibh.