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Three New Faith Community Areas

On Tuesday the 16th May – the Feast of St Brendan the Navigator, Bishop Michael Duignan celebrated Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Clonfert. During the celebration, he launched three new Faith Community Areas or groupings of parishes to assist with planning for the future.  During the ceremony, representatives of each of the twenty-four parishes that comprise the Diocese of Clonfert were given a mandate constituting the areas along with an evergreen branch symbolising hope for new growth and a fruitful future. Taking the prayer of St Brendan as their own the prayed “Lord, help me to journey beyond the familiar and into the unknown. Give me the faith to leave old ways and break fresh ground with you. Christ of the mysteries, I trust you to be stronger than each storm within me.”

Speaking at the launch Bishop Michael noted how

“This important initiative marks a closer coming together of the twenty four parishes in the Diocese of Clonfert into three Faith Community Areas centred on the towns of Loughrea, Ballinasloe and Portumna. Over time, it is hoped that the sharing of priests, personnel, resources and talent will mean that parishes working closer together will be able to achieve more than they could on their own. Ní neart go cur le chéile- there is a special strength when we come together with a common purpose. In the future the deployment of priests, the scheduling of Masses and religious services, the provision of training for lay ministers, religious education programmes, pastoral initiatives and administration supports will be shaped by this new Faith Community area focus.”

The homilist was Father Iomar Daniels Chairperson of the Clonfert Diocesan Parish Restructuring and Development Committee – a group of priests and lay people that have been working on the proposal for some time now.  During his homily, Fr Daniels spoke of how;

“This launch of New Faith Community Areas for our Diocese is a declaration, by the Bishop, people, and priests of the Diocese, of a desire and an intent to keep the faith alive in our parish communities despite all the challenges of a changing culture in Ireland.”

He expressed the hope that this launch;

“will give us all a renewed sense of our community of faith and how, by working together, we can achieve great things.  It was Pope Benedict, in particular, who constantly invited us to co-responsibility in our faith journey. This is essential now for us as parishes.  We are invited to work closely together in ways that will emerge even more obviously in the months and years ahead of which instances of collaboration are already evident in parishes such as Loughrea, Kilnadeema and Aille, and Kiltullagh and Killimordaly; Ballinasloe, Laurencetown and Kiltomer; Portumna and Fahy and Quansboro; Tynagh and Killeen and Duniry and Abbey.”