Minutes of Meeting held on June 3rd 2014
John Kelly welcomed people to the meeting. He also welcomed Noel McCann, Chair of the Steering Group of ACI Ireland, who would introduce ACI later.
John then briefly outlined the purpose of this ACI local initiative within the context of the current drive towards Church Reform and Renewal. Referring to Pope Francis’s encouragement of us to participate in the Synod on Family Life as fundamental to Reform and Renewal at this time, he suggested Family as a topic for the evening’s discussion. He left open the question of whether this was to be a one off meeting or the launching of a series of meetings within the compass of ACI.
Teresa Mee led us with a moment of silent pause and short prayer. She then circulated a series of photos which stimulated our reflection on Family Life today. We then individually commented on what the photos brought up for us and a lively discussion took place highlighting the following:
- The miracle of new Life from the perspective of parents.
- Life giving relationships through balancing the protection with promoting the independence of children. Loving care expressed in various forms of communication. Active listening as an essential prerequisite of good, effective communication. Mother/child relationship seen as special and fundamental.
- Weakening of Family cohesion due to technological advance e.g. easing of work load at home enables mother take her place in wider society but necessitates longer absence from children. Evolving ease of transport promotes commuter culture but increases isolation of the individual from home and local community.
- Advances in cohesion. Family/Community, evolving forms of educating together, family within supportive sharing community all seen as important.
- Family/community outreach to those of the elderly who are isolated, to people experiencing hard times, and to isolated members of the younger generation with the challenge of -what can we do to help ?
- Traditional family changing with evolving forms of Family. The latter includes long-term partners, single parent families, same sex couples with or without children and families of divorcees.
The Objectives of Association of Catholics in Ireland (ACI)
Noel McCann, Chair of the ACI Steering Group, then spoke on ACI. He thanked John and Teresa for their initiative and said that these local gatherings are exactly the type of meeting which the ACI is encouraging members to organise – gatherings which will facilitate and empower the lay faithful to discuss the issues at the heart of the current crisis in the church and encourage them to consider what role they can play in tackling these issues.
He spoke about the background to the establishment of the ACI, tracing the history of the Association of Catholic Priests [ACP] and the influence the formation of this association had on the lay reform movement leading to the emergence of the ACI in May 2012 and the formal launch of the new lay association in May 2013.
In particular he referred to the various meetings around the country in 2012-2013 organised by the ACP and the ACI and the consistency in the comments of those in attendance including a real concern for the future survival of the church, the role of women in the church, the impact of the shortage of priests and how to attract young people back to active involvement in the church.
The late Cardinal Tomas O’Fiaich, speaking in 1987, suggested that It was time to awaken the “Sleeping Giant that is the laity”- surely, Noel said, this awakening is long over- due. He reminded us that we had a chance to reform our church in the post Vatican II era but that opportunity was lost. We must not allow the same to happen again now that we are being given a ‘second chance’.Noel then spoke about the opportunity for change under the leadership of Pope Francis and the importance of grasping this unique opportunity to position the lay faithful at the heart of the dialogue on the future of the church.
- The questionnaire on the family and the letter from Pope Francis to families in February 2014 were clear indications that the Pope values the views of all of the people of the Church. It is as if he is appealing to the laity to get involved. He is reaching out to us – almost looking over the heads of the church hierarchy.
- The Pope is urging us to express our opinions on the key issues, particularly those related to the family in advance of the Synod in October 2014.
- The ACI was working on an initiative aimed at encouraging the lay faithful across the country to get involved in the dialogue on the church in the 21st Century. More details will be available shortly.
Decisions taken by the Group
The group then discussed the next step and decided that:
- We go ahead with this series of meetings under the auspices of ACI;
- We take time to discuss more fully the ACI Aims and Objectives in the light of Noel’s presentation;
- We discuss the recent Synod of Bishops questionnaire;
- We work on a response to the Synod of Bishops for possible inclusion with ACI submission.
Date of Next Meeting
Early July subject to availability of Portacabin at St Fergal’s
(Subsequently agreed for Tuesday 1st July at 7.30 p.m.)