Our first topic of conversation was the Family within Community.
Our discussion was wide ranging and highlighted the following:
A community is only healthy where it is supportive and where the primary offering a Christian community can bring is love and support. However, that link between church and community has changed and people now look less and less to the church for togetherness.
- Peer groups are replacing traditional communities – work colleagues, sports clubs, concert attending, hill walkers etc.
- An example was given of where there was a death of a young man in County Roscommon and the primary support organisation for the grieving was the GAA.
- Another example given was a local neighbourhood organising a “neighbours’ lunch” which created a sense of belonging in that community .
- (It was noted that Kimmage Manor, where we hold our South Dublin meetings, holds a Parish Day each year as a community building event.)
We also talked about the relevance, or otherwise, of Sunday Celebration
The original Christian Eucharist was a get-together based on sharing and remembering the lived Jesus.
Comments on Sunday Eucharist included:
- It lacks participation – the priest is deferred to, to do and say nearly everything.
- The homily is a one way communication format
- There is an unreality about the absence of reference to some of the issues that are impinging on people personal and family lives-like economic issues austerity, water charges, banking collapse.
- It was noted that South America, lacking in priests, have developed celebrations that are communal and full of life including Gospel based hymns. (They have also produced a Pope called Francis!)
Another area of concern was
- The Pastoral Councils were to be decision making and they seem to have become advisory.
Looking outwards, it was observed that
- The most recent Cathedral built in Dublin is a mosque and young people are going to it in large numbers-why?
- The Society of Friends “get-together” is very contemplative, participative and spiritual.
The Synod Questionnaire
A document prepared by Our Catholic Family was circulated. It is designed to act as a conversation aide addressing some of the questions posed by the Lineamenta (Preparatory Questionnaire) about marriage, family and pastoral practices in the Catholic Church.(see catholicfamily.org for further details)
A member of our group had already enquired of the priests of the local parish as to their plans to hold a discussion on the Preparatory Questionnaire by way of response to Pope Francis’ invitation. They had confirmed that it was on their agenda, but acknowledged they were very busy and found it difficult to find the time. We agreed that we, as ACI, would offer our support and assistance to the priests and the parish community to be of any help we could in the holding of that discussion.
We feel that ACI is a candle in the darkness even though numbers are small. We are started. It is a beginning.