What was remarkable during the synodal process was the honesty of the contributions. The people who took the floor did so out of real concern for the ecclesial community and a real desire to see us better follow the inspirations of the Lord. It was also noted that faith matters a lot to people and therefore there was, on several occasions, a healthy passion for contributions. (Editor’s note: The following is text edited for space, but remains true to the original language used.)
Some of what people said gave them joy as they thought about their Church experience:
- Faith is personal, I get joy and nourishment from attending Mass and receiving the Eucharist.
- A well-prepared liturgy where the homily gives us something to take with us to help us live the Gospel during the week.
- Get involved as readers, Eucharistic ministers.
- The possibility of attending daily mass.
- The Latin Mass has a lot to offer.
- Since the church building is open to anyone who can call to sit with God, the silence and the smell of the church building.
Music and choirs
- Singing and music and an enthusiastic and accessible celebrant make liturgy a joy.
- Celebration music is an important element, gives the ceremony a boost, brings a different atmosphere, choirs encourage children, bring more families to church, the choir has been missing during Covid.
- Funeral liturgy is very significant, funeral liturgies where the priest has engaged with the family and the people come to be present to the bereaved in their time of sorrow.
- Funerals in Ireland are very well done and there is a great sense of people coming together in prayer.
Communal aspect of the Church
- Gathering of community in the church, the sense of community that the church gives in happy times and sad times.
- The celebration of Mass, be it the Sunday liturgy, funerals or weddings, is the only time when the community of faith in our parish comes together to be Church.
- Friends made by attending church.
- The great kindness shown in the parishes, especially in times of tragedy.
- The sacraments bring joy, even a funeral can bring joy if it is a celebration of life.
- Family Mass groups allow young people to get involved; the presence of children brings joy.
Involvement of lay people
- Pastoral areas, in collaboration with neighboring parishes more inclusive.
- Active parish pastoral council, establish parish pastoral councils and take them further.
- Ministries for the laity, develop them.
- To see lay people being recognized for the work they do behind the scenes in the church.
- Various church agencies helping the poor and homeless, parishes helping Ukrainian refugees – give hope that the human family cares for each other.
- Have a good priest that people trust and support, the local priest.
- Role and presence of the priest during mourning,
- priests with good short sermons.
- Dedication of the priest to vocation, the priest empowers people and promotes the Church.
- The wonderful Youth 2000 movement
- Young people involved in ministries and helping in church give joy.
- Feeling that children are safe with good safeguarding procedures.
Guidelines for living
- The guidelines for living are given to us by the fundamental values of the Church.
- Tradition is something to be proud of.
- Pope Francis is a great leader. Brought joy to the Church. Interested in environmental issues. Open to change. Applies to everyone. A brave man.
Some of what people said disappoints them when they think about their experience of the Church:
Mass and sacraments
- Small number of children in church, lots of children in church but no teenagers.
- Masses broadcast live reducing physical attendance.
- Inability to receive under both species, no possibility of renewing the faith – missions, novenas, etc., lack of altar servers.
- Lack of reverence, respect, solemnity and silence in the church.
Lay involvement in the Church
- No involvement of lay people in the functioning of the parish, no responsibility shared with the priest in decision-making affecting parish life.
- No mechanism in place to ensure that policies adopted at the diocesan level are implemented by the parish.
- Lack of esteem for priests.
- Decline in vocations and the number of priests, no appetite for help from foreign priests.
- We spent years praying for “vocations” not realizing that everyone there had a vocation – this always frustrated me.
- Sermons unrelated to today’s ethical challenges.
- Clericalism, attitude of certain members of the clergy.
- Priests silenced.
- The Church has very little importance for young people, young people are indifferent to the Church, miss ohf young people in church sad.
- Young people only attend church for baptisms, weddings and special occasions.
- Lack of youth ministry.
- Young people not exposed to catechism.
- A failure to address the need for change, a failure at all levels to meet today’s challenges.
- The Church should defend the position of our faith on issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and euthanasia.
- The Church should not be afraid to criticize politicians.
- The Church should speak of sin and hell, of the Sacrament of Confession.
Obligatory celibacy for priests
- Is it fair to expect the priesthood to be reserved for men and they are not allowed to marry?
- Disappointing that priests cannot marry, priests should be allowed to marry.
- Men married as priests, allow priests to marry.
- Give up celibacy – why can’t we have married priests?
Role of women
- Complete frustration with explicit gender discrimination – women and men are equal and should be treated as such.
- Patriarchy – Church centered on men.
- Injury done to women and babies and lack of responsibility for the same.
- Greater effort is needed to promote women’s ordination and include women in roles of responsibility and equality.
- The church has been too slow to apologize for clerical child abuse.
- The sexual abuse of children, and the way the Church has dealt with it, has caused considerable damage; their response did not help those angry at the Church’s lack of honesty for victims of abuse.
- Sexual abuse – image of the Church more important than that of children; the bishops ignored him and people lost faith in the Church.
- Gays – gender issues, people may not feel welcome if they are part of minority groups.
- As the mother of a homosexual child, I feel that he is now excluded from our Church.
- The invitation to be part of this synod was not properly prepared or circulated, no awareness of this synod.
- Negativity towards the Church in the media.
- Poor communication at parish, diocesan and national level.
- VSThe church does not reach many people in the community, those who are left behind – it is difficult to return to church – divorced people feel left out.
- Level of religion in some secondary schools disappointing, secondary schools – no spiritual training.
- The primary school religious curriculum leaves much to be desired.
- The suggestion to remove religion from schools is a major disappointment.
How could the ward be better?
- Involve the children more in the mass. Organize a child-friendly mass, special readings.
What could the Holy Spirit say?
It should be noted that we spoke to people from many/almost all sectors of the diocese, including, but certainly not exclusively, urban and rural sectors. The synodal group however regrets that some voices may be better heard or represented, again included here but not limited to, young families/parents have been remarkably light in their engagement in the process, as have those in our schools of second level, the traveling community, the LGBTQI communities, those who fight against the creed and other groups. We note, then with sadness, that certain voices are still largely absent from this synthesis – not because we are not trying to reach out, but simply we recognize, at this stage of our synodal journey, that there is still much to do to encourage people to take part in the future phases of our synodal journey.
It should be noted that our church community contains, in a very real way, those who are at opposite poles – those who think that we are not Catholic enough, in the sense of sticking to traditional teachings, live alongside those who think we would be more Catholic in taking more modern approaches.
Continued implementation of the Diocesan Pastoral Plan will help begin to achieve some of what is desired in these pages.