By Sarah Mac Donald - 20 November, 2019
Self-care for priests and vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and lay ministry will be priorities for the Diocese of Clogher’s new council of priests.
Bishop Larry Duffy called for these issues to be addressed “in a meaningful way” following the first meeting of the new council at St Macartan’s College in Monaghan on Tuesday, a meeting which the Bishop attended.
Welcoming the formation of the new council, Bishop Larry Duffy paid tribute to members’ synodal approach to leadership in the diocese.
He also thanked those who had served on the previous council of priests, all of whom had remained in an advisory role during the sede vacante period while there was no bishop in Clogher diocese.
“As a new bishop, I look forward to working with the members of the new council as, together, we encounter the challenges and opportunities that face the diocese today. The membership of this new council reflects a wide range of experiences and outlooks,” the Bishop of Clogher said.
“Today, the urgency of vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and lay ministry and the question of self-care for priests are ones that must be addressed in a meaningful way. I am confident that the new council will be a great assistance to me and to the whole diocese regarding these and other important questions,” he said.
The previous council of priests lapsed in October 2016 following the retirement of Bishop Liam MacDaid. Following the ordination of Bishop Larry Duffy on 10 February last, arrangements were put in place for the formation of a new body.
The members of the new council were elected at the recent General Conference of Priests held last month in Monaghan.
The council of priests consists of nine elected members and four members nominated by the bishop, together with the two vicar generals of the diocese.
Additionally, a secretary is appointed as a non-voting member. Its term is for five years.
The role of the council is to assist the bishop in the discharge of his episcopal duties and to represent the views of priests across the diocese.
While the council can never act apart from the bishop, it has certain defined functions laid out in Canon Law, making it a body which the bishop is obliged to consult when important strategic decisions are being made in relation to the life of the diocese.
A spokesman for the Diocese of Clogher said the origins of the council of priests go back to the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council when the concept of collegiality became dominant in church discourse.
“This meant that in the discharge of their duties, church leaders at all levels share their responsibilities with others, clerical, religious and lay.”
“Today, Pope Francis continues to propose this model to us in what is called ‘synodality’ – a model of church where all the People of God journey together in the light of the Holy Spirit, discerning God’s will. Recent synods in Rome have shown the potential of such a model. It is also a model that is used by other Christian churches.”
November 2019 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the formation of the first Council of Priests in the Diocese of Clogher in 1969.
That first council had its initial meeting in the Bishop’s House on 12 November of that year. According to the Diocese of Clogher’s spokesperson, “Some of the issues dealt with then still permeate church life today, especially vocations and the care of priests.”
Members of Clogher Diocese’s new Council of Priests (2019-2024) are:
Canon Michael Daly (Chairman)
Mgr Peter O’Reilly VG
Mgr Joseph McGuinness VG
Fr Brian Early
Fr Peter Corrigan
Mgr Richard Mohan
Canon Patrick McEntee
Fr Brendan Gallagher
Fr Seamus Quinn
Fr Padraig McKenna
Fr John Chester
Fr John Flanagan
Fr Stephen Joyce
Fr Seán Mulligan
Fr Stephen Duffy
Fr Owen Gorman (Secretary)