Who in your parish prepares and reads out the ‘Prayers of the Faithful’, heard after the Gospel and Homily at weekend Mass?
As the crisis of the Irish Catholic clergy becomes more intense, some bishops are sounding the alarm and calling for ‘co-responsibility’ – but we in ACI are also hearing that many priests are still making little attempt to prepare lay people for the greater responsibilities that must fall on us quite soon.
Trying to get a clear overview of this situation in Ireland, we in the ACI Steering Group are asking all members of ACI to report back to us on the progress of lay responsibility and activity in your own parish.
Our headline question above seems a good place to start. The Prayers of the Faithful were always intended to be the prayers of those attending Mass on that day – not prayers prepared just by the celebrant or chosen by him from some book or other source. If parishioners are not being trusted to prepare and then to read out these prayers at Mass, what does that tell us about the readiness of clergy to prepare their people for greater responsibility, for awareness of the meaning of scripture, and for change?
Other key questions:
- What happens in your parish if there is no priest to say a weekday Mass? Are there trained lay people ready to conduct a prayer service with Holy Communion in the absence of the priest? Or does everyone simply go, or stay at, home?
- Does your parish have a pastoral council that is working to prepare the parish for greater lay responsibility – e.g. to deal with the absence of a priest for weekday Mass?
- Does your priest speak of the need for adult faith development in this changing situation, or encourage this trend in any way – e.g. by facilitating opportunities for discussion of the encyclicals of Pope Francis (such as Laudato Si’ on our responsibility for the Environment, or Amoris Laetitia on the Family)?
- Does your priest ever speak of the need for Family Catechesis – i.e. the need for parents or grandparents to take greater responsibility for instructing children in the faith, now that we know that schools alone are not sufficient for this?
Please take the time to report back to us on as many of these questions as you can. We lay people must show that we are ready for the responsibilities that must fall to us soon if our Irish church is to renew itself and overcome this crisis. The ACI Steering Group needs to be in a position to inform the Irish Bishops Conference of the true state of affairs if ACI is to fulfil its potential for leadership in a situation that becomes more critical day-by-day.
Fortunately there are signs that some clergy and some religious orders are ready to assist us lay people to develop our own gifts for responding to change. Everything you tell us will empower us to advise such leaders – to hasten the emergence of a co-responsible Irish church at long last.
To respond, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to us at:
The Association of Catholics in Ireland, c/o 41 Woodcliffe Village, Howth, Co Dublin