By Ann Marie Foley - 25 November, 2015
“There are great challenges ahead. We have great gifts and strengths as we face them. Appreciate the strength of your parish and the whole diocesan family."
Bishop Ray Browne launched the Kerry Diocesan Pastoral Plan (2016-2020) Be Christ’s Joy in Killarney on Monday along with more than 350 people from all corners of the diocese.
In his address Bishop Browne said, “There are great challenges ahead. We have great gifts and strengths as we face them. Appreciate the good, appreciate the strength of your parish and the whole diocesan family. Jesus has said that He is with us always. Let us all be encouraged.”
The episcopal ordination of Bishop Browne took place on 21 July 2013.
Over the two years since he arrived in the diocese of Kerry, he said he had been encouraged by the strong faith of individuals and in communities, where prayer is part of their way of being. He said he had also seen great faith, hope and love.
The new pastoral plan is shaped by three goals which involve welcoming; enabling; and becoming catalysts for justice and compassion.
“The three goals capture the essence of the diocesan family. United together, ever seeking to be close to God, always seeking to be loving, just and compassionate in all that we do,” the bishop said at the launch.
“Two phrases come to mind, one in Irish and one in English. ‘If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do the builders labour’; ‘Ní neart go cur le cheile’; ‘Trust in God’s help, Trust in God’s ways.’”
For the launch, Fr Pat Ahern worked with young people from the Presentation Secondary School in Tralee on a display of flags from the 53 parishes and 12 pastoral areas of the diocese.
Musicians Mícheál, Seán, Breda and Cian from Fossa played traditional airs and with Fr Pat Ahern, they enhanced a presentation of the Beatitudes, reminding all that they are called to be salt of the earth and light for the world.
Dr Patricia Kieran of Mary Immaculate College shared her reflection on the hope and vision offered by the plan at this stage of the diocese’s life.
Based on the life, ministry and call of Jesus Christ and echoing Pope Francis’ invitation to all Catholics, she said the plan calls each to take responsibility to create welcoming compassionate communities, to deepen faith in Jesus Christ and live in service of others, especially those who are most vulnerable.
Fr Ger Godley, pastoral director, presented the key goals of the plan and said, “The Diocesan Pastoral Plan provides a clear direction for the work of the Diocese over the coming five years. It builds on the good work that is already underway and responds to the challenge of proclaiming the Gospel at this time. It is the product of a lot of hard work, which involved people from every corner of the Diocese, over the past two years.”
He said it outlines clear goals and actions which he believes will provide hope, encouragement and confidence for all involved in the life of the Diocese of Kerry.
The Kerry Diocese had a previous plan pastoral plan for the years 2009-2013 entitled Christ Our Hope.
Other dioceses have prepared for and launched similar plans in recent years including Living Church by Down & Connor.
Kilmore Diocese held an assembly late last year with the theme Walking Together; Building the Kingdom; Professing Our Faith.
Themes which emerged from the diocesan consultations include concerns about fewer priests, the role of women in the church, as well as how to act on Pope Francis’ call to go to the margins.
The three points to emerge from the consultation with over 2,000 people in the diocese of Kerry and which are outlined in the pastoral plan are:
Develop welcoming communities: God is a Father to us all, ever he wants us to be a strong united family, united in Christ His Son.
Enable people to deepen their faith: at heart we seek to know God better and to better understand his presence in our world.
Be a catalyst for compassion and justice: if we are without justice, without compassion, without love all our Christianity is in vain.
For more details visit: www.dioceseofkerry.ie.