Pastoral Community of Derriaghy & Colin
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts of the Apostles 2:42)
This how our church started when there were few apostles and members, yet from humble beginnings the Church grew, spread across the nations, and demonstrated a persistent vitality. Here in Ireland – the Church expanded for centuries and for the many reasons you will be aware off –in more recent times, the numbers attending Masses and the sacraments has decreased. However we are blessed to have a great family of faith here in this parish!
We are living in a time of increasing pressure in relation to a shortage of priests, and this is particularly acute when it comes to being able to cover each other in the case of emergencies and sickness. It is inevitable that there will have to be changes in how clergy provide services across not only our own parish but also neighbouring parishes. This is happening by every Pastoral Community in the Diocese.
We have completed research: there was a census of Mass attendance at all our Masses, in each parish of the pastoral community, across three successive Sundays last May and then again in November, to help inform us regarding Mass provision for the future. The findings have helped us draw up a plan for the future.
We are at a stage now that in our Pastoral Community, which takes in six neighbouring parishes, that we feel we have no option but to reduce the overall number of Masses in the immediate future.
None of us likes change, and I know you may be worried about what these changes will mean. All of us tend to think about how change affects us personally- we have traditions – however while this is a challenge, it does also offer opportunities. We hope that these changes will lead to greater collaboration, sharing of resources and co-operation amongst our family of parishes.
At recent meetings, of priests and deacons, discussion has taken place in relation to reducing the number of Masses at the weekend, as well as staggering our Mass times across the whole Pastoral Community, to avoid duplication and offer a variety of Mass times. These changes will also free up a celebrant to be able to travel across the Pastoral Community if the need arises.
Over the next few weeks we will be outlining the proposed changes in more detail with our pastoral councils and yourselves. Once all the information is available we will explore opportunities to discuss and explain the changes with members of the pastoral council, pastoral community forum representatives and with parishioners.
Thank you sincerely for your support and your generosity of spirit as we face together the challenges of the future. We are all called to work together for the greater good and the glory of God.
Fr. Peter O’Hare