In the spring of 2018 the ACI Steering group circulated ACI members with a short list of five questions – to explore the extent of lay involvement in the life of Irish Catholic parishes. This was, in effect, an exploratory pilot study (EPS) of this key issue at a time of transition in Irish church life.
We asked about:
- ‘Prayers of the Faithful’ (by whom these were selected and read);
- If lay-led prayer services ever happened on weekdays – with Holy Communion – in the absence of a priest to celebrate Mass;
- If the parish had a Pastoral Council preparing the parish for greater lay responsibility;
- What might be happening re adult faith development;
- If a need for family catechesis was ever mentioned by parish clergy.
A preliminary non-expert overview of these findings suggested a widely varying situation, and a worrying overall picture of ‘lay involvement’ – so the ACI steering group commissioned an expert examination of the results. A full report on this is now available:
Overall this confirms our initial summation: that the situation is alarming and calls for an all-Ireland survey of lay involvement, and of the causes of the alienation of so many in younger generations from traditional sacramental practice of the faith.
Having communicated that conviction to the Irish Bishops Conference in the autumn of 2019 we await a response in 2020, as the church is further challenged by a coronaviral pandemic.