Uncertainties give us all food for thought. Sadly, for many people, the thought of being without a secure income has become reality. Many people have had to change their plans, postpone dreams and lower expectations.

The past year has also ended with many people questioning how our Church is organized and administered. The Report of Judge Murphy’s Commission of Inquiry used direct language to describe atrocities committed by priests and to criticise failures by bishops and administrators.

In their statement at the recent December meeting, the Irish Bishops said that “The Report raises very important issues for the Church in Ireland, including the functioning of the Bishops’ Conference, and, how the lay faithful can be more effectively involved in the life of the Church. We will give further detailed consideration to these issues.”

The call for involvement of parishioners in the life of the Church is not new. The call from parishioners to be given a meaningful voice in the life of the Church is not new either. Neither voice has been heard adequately. This requires a coming together of the Church in Ireland which has not yet happened.

In a largely unreported address to a meeting in his diocese in Rome in May 2009, Pope Benedict called for a radical re-examination of the role of all the baptised.

“This will require a change of mentality, especially regarding lay people — to move from considering them to be the clergy’s collaborators to recognizing them as truly sharing responsibility for the existence and action of the church,” the pope said.

The faith and commitment already evident in the vitality of parish leadership groups in our diocese are evidence of how the Lord can breathe new life into his people.
That life challenges all of us to truly discover the Lord at work in one another.

May you have a hope-filled New Year.