- Their parish without a pastoral council since June 2018;
- A diocesan renewal programme – announced in that same month – that no lay person from their chapel can currently take part in;
- A looming collapse in the number of serving priests.
- A diocesan review ongoing into Church buildings and Mass services – in which they do not have a voice;
This is the apparently impossible situation of the ancient Catholic community attending St Mary’s Chapel in the environs of Dunboe, in the parish now known as St John’s, Coleraine – also the parish of Sean O’Conaill, ACI member since 2013.
Knowing some of the Dunboe faithful, and knowing also that their predicament must mirror that of at least some other Irish Catholic communities, Sean remembered Article 37 of Lumen Gentium, the Vatican II Constitution on the Church. In 1964 that piece of text had declared the ‘right’ of all Catholics to participate in decisions that affected them, and promised to all Catholics that ‘institutions’ would follow through which they could make their pastoral needs, and any due criticism, known to their pastors.
His decision to try to launch a campaign for the immediate implementation of Lumen Gentium 37 followed. He renamed his own personal website accordingly, and quickly made a video for YouTube, ‘The Laity Have the Right …’, now streaming.
‘Individual parish priests and administrators are often tired and in a most difficult position these times. The fault lies with decades of inaction by bishops internationally, including popes since Pope Saint John XXIII. And with people like myself, who just sat back and waited for the new ‘institutions’ to arrive.’
‘Lumen Gentium 37 at this stage is just a banner for anyone interested to march behind. I’ve now got the T-shirt too, and will be flaunting these at the gates of Maynooth College, Co. Kildare on October 1st, 2019 – where all Irish bishops will be for their next conference meeting. I’ve already gotten the attention of Derry Bishop Donal McKeown, so let’s just see who else turns up! Nothing will happen without a groundswell of support from ordinary parishioners.’