“The challenge for Church is … to … look forward, … to cease to be focussed on maintenance… to develop laity and clergy in a way that they are fit for mission – making, forming and sending new disciples of Christ.”
This message from Bishop McKeown of Derry in August 2017 was reinforced by Pope Francis at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin on August 25th, 2018.
“Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, each Christian is sent forth to be a missionary, “a missionary disciple” (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 120). The Church as a whole is called to “go forth” to bring the words of eternal life to all the peripheries of our world. May our celebration today confirm each of you, parents and grandparents, children and young people, men and women, religious brothers and sisters, contemplatives and missionaries, deacons, priests and bishops, to share the joy of the Gospel! Share the Gospel of the family as joy for the world!“
A ‘New Evangelisation‘ to turn the tide of decline of faith and practice in Europe and the West generally has been hanging fire in these islands since first promoted by Pope John Paul II. Not even the setting up of a ‘Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation‘ by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 had significant effect in Ireland – sorely tested by a series of devastating clerical scandals beginning in 1992 and reaching a demoralising peak in 2009.
With the departing Papal Nuncio – Archbishop Charles Brown – forecasting a looming cliff edge and ‘free fall’ in the number of Irish priests fit to serve (that was in the spring of 2017), Bishop McKeown’s call for ‘mission’ sounded like a very necessary call to ‘break the mould’ that shapes the Irish church’s current (and often routinised and absent-minded) ‘way of going’.
And with the Irish bishops embarkation on a synodal pathway in March 2021, their missionary intent was made clear: Synodality, they say, “is about finding the best ways for every baptized person to fulfil the Church’s mission of proclaiming to the world, God’s love and salvation in Jesus Christ“.
Calling as ACI does for the introduction without delay of the vibrant collegial church culture and structure promised by Vatican II, we can only support a new ‘mission’ orientation for the Irish church – and begin a discussion on our pages on how to begin. This page will keep a running list of links to all of our articles on this theme.
Irish Mission Now – Bishop Donal McKeown’s original call to mission in August 2017 – and ACI’s first response.
Irish Mission Now? – Some more questions – Aidan Hart welcomes Bishop McKeown’s call but has some very detailed questions and proposals. Comment follows from others – to which you could add your own.
Irish Mission Now: Could Everyone Pray Grace? – Gerald Donnelly’s brave door-to-door experiment in asking people of all faiths and none if they could consider praying grace before meals at family gatherings – in Clondalkin, Dublin
First Comes the Experience of God’s Unconditional Love – Aidan Hart reminds us of the essential first step that has always preceded conversion to membership of the people of God.
Watch this space for more articles on the same theme – and please contact us if you have a ‘mission’ idea or a story to tell.