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Parish needs to become school for missionary disciples

By Susan Gately - 25 May, 2019

Transformed parish training day can help “kickstart” parish renewal for our country in which “pressure is increasing to sideline the Christian church”.

The parish should and can become a school for missionary disciples, according to Tim Nichols from the Tine Network Ireland. “I love the image of parish as a rescue ship used by God to rescue the lost. Too often it has the perception of a club focused inward for the benefit of its members rather than outwards into the community,” he told CatholicIreland.net.

Mr Nichols was speaking in advance of a conference sponsored by Tine Network in conjunction with the Emmaus Retreat Centre, which will take place on Tuesday next (28 May 2019) to “kickstart” parish renewal.

The “hands-on practical training day” for priests, pastoral councils and key parish volunteers takes place at the Emmaus Retreat Centre in Swords, beginning with registration and coffee from 8.45. It continues until 4.30 p.m. and the cost is €50 per person, including lunch and breaks.

The day will focus on the Transformed Parish initiative using Fr James Mallon’s Divine Renovation book on how to actually get started as a group. This initiative exists to assist parishes in taking steps to move from maintenance to mission in response to the rapidly changing environment of the Church in a secularised Ireland, where the “pressure is increasing to sideline the Christian church”.

“Ireland has become a mission, rather than a missionary sending nation. The time has come for the Church to rediscover its mission to ‘Go and Makes disciples’.”

According to Mr Nichols, parishes are seeking a way forward. “People are coming [to the conference] to be refreshed, envisioned, and receive training in parish leadership. Our hope is to give them that practical training and to link with other parishes in the same journey of renewal.”

Currently around fifty priests and laity, mainly from east coast dioceses, are booked for the event, which will look at developing a vision and changing parish culture. It is still open to parishes to send delegations to the one-day conference, booking on the link at the bottom of this article. Conference organisers encourage parishes to send a group led by at least one priest.

The training day comes as a follow-up to two earlier conferences in 2017 with Fr James Mallon in Maynooth and Cork. Over 400 bishops, priests and laity attended those gatherings. Last year Bishop Philip Egan, Bishop of Portsmouth, and Paul Donders were the keynote speakers at a further Transformed Parish event.

The Tine Network is a network of Catholic leaders of ministries involved in all forms of evangelisation, serving the Catholic Church in Ireland. Members of its executive include representatives of NET Ministries, Evangelisation 2033, Jesus Youth, the Céilí Community and two bishops – Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin and Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan of Waterford and Lismore.

Booking details can be found by clicking here: Tine Network conference.

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