Can Faith Truly be ‘Transmitted’?

Oct 7, 2022 | 0 comments

Professor Michael Conway of Maynooth

No one should presume that they can ‘transmit’ their own faith to anyone else!

This was the stark and yet encouraging message from Fr Michael Conway in a Zoom presentation to ACI on Thursday October 6th 2022.

Emphasising the central importance of the grace of the Holy Spirit in everyone’s faith formation Fr Michael pointed out that this grace is not something that any of us can predict or control.

The best we can do is to live our own Christian lives with integrity, providing where we can the open-ended opportunities for ‘exchange’ – the synodal dialogue – that is always respectful of the freedom of others to differ from ourselves.

Professor Conway began by describing the Ireland of just a few decades ago, when faith formation was taken for granted as part of a fixed and static world order – ‘the way things were and had to be’. To ‘have faith’ was simply to conform to the expectations of the Irish Catholic world that formed us, and there were penalties for resistance to that expectation.

In the questioning decades that followed from the 1970s in Ireland that fixed world order collapsed. No one now needs to – or should be expected to – conform to the wishes of anyone else in matters of faith. Realistic ‘faith formation’ must be grounded in that reality. To allow for the grace of faith to happen we must abandon the expectation that any of us can make it happen.

Synodality – welcoming and open-ended journeying together, for the respectful exchange of our stories and questions – is therefore indispensable, not just an option.

The event was well attended, and the presentation provoked a receptive series of questions and comments.

Professor Conway plans to publish a more extended form of the presentation in due course.


Michael A. Conway is Professor of Faith and Culture, Pontifical University, St Patrick’s College, Maynooth – lecturing on ‘The changing nature of Irish culture in its relationship to religion, spirituality, and faith.


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ACI’s Campaign for Lumen Gentium 37

The Promise of Synodality

What we have experienced of synodality so far gives ACI real hope that a longstanding structural injustice in the church may at last be acknowledged and overcome.

As all Irish bishops well know, the 'co-responsibility' they urge lay people to share - as numbers and energies of clergy decline - has been sabotaged time and again by canonical rules that deny representational authority and continuity to parish pastoral councils.  ACI's 2019 call for the immediate honouring of Lumen Gentium Article 37 becomes more urgent by the day and is supported by the following documents - also presented to the ICBC in October 2019.

The Common Priesthood of the People of God and the Renewal of the Church
It was Catholic parents and victims of clerical abuse who taught Catholic Bishops to prioritise the safeguarding of children in the church

Jesus as Model for the Common Priesthood of the People of God
It was for challenging religious hypocrisy and injustice that Jesus was accused and crucified. He is therefore a model for the common priesthood of the laity and for the challenging of injustice - in society and within the church.

A Suggested Strategy for the Recovery of the Irish and Western Catholic Church
Recovery of the church depends upon acknowledgment of the indispensable role of the common priesthood of the lay people of God and the explicit abandonment by bishops and clergy of paternalism and clericalism - the expectation of deference from lay people rather than honesty and integrity.

For the full story of ACI's campaign for the honouring of Article 37 of Lumen Gentium, click here.


"Come Holy Spirit, Renew Your wonders in this our day, as by a new Pentecost. Grant to Your Church that, being of one mind and steadfast in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and following the lead of blessed Peter, it may advance the reign of our Divine Saviour, the reign of truth and justice, the reign of love and peace. Amen."

Saint Pope John XXIII, 1962 - In preparation for Vatican Council II, 1962-65.

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