Kilmore Diocese launches new Diocesan Pastoral Plan 2015-2020

There was an air of excitement, anticipation and celebration as bishop, priests, religious and lay people of the diocese of Kilmore gathered at St. Ninnidh’s Church in Derrylin, Co. Fermanagh, on Sunday 7 June last to mark the launch of the new Diocesan Pastoral Plan 2015-2020.

The plan was developed as a result of last year’s Diocesan Assembly and the Listening Survey which preceded it.  The Assembly Steering Committee and the Diocesan Pastoral Council worked on the recommendations that emerged to produce a pastoral plan for Kilmore for the next five years.

The Bishop of Kilmore, Most Reverend Leo O’Reilly, was the principal celebrant of Mass and gave the homily on what was the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus.  The concelebrating priests processed to the church from the nearby primary school and were led by this year’s First Holy Communicants from the host parish of Knockninny and a local piper, Elaine Cassidy.  There was a guard of honour comprising of representatives of the various groups and organisations in the parish while young people from the parish played music in the church grounds as the congregation gathered.  Donna Leonard from the Knockninny Parish Pastoral Council welcomed all present.  Four young girls from the parish, accompanied by local traditional musicians, performed a liturgical dance entitled “A Celebration of the Spirit” to symbolise the commitment, energy, enthusiasm and vitality needed within the diocese over the coming years.  It also highlighted the active role youth need to play within the Church of the future.

John Paul Feely, Vice-Chair of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, read the first reading while Mrs. Nancy Sheils, Diocesan Pastoral Council Secretary, read the second reading.  Reverend Andy Brady (Deacon) read the Gospel and Reverend Damian Kivlehan (Deacon) also assisted on the altar.  The Prayer of the Faithful was offered by representatives from each of the four deaneries in the diocese and two young people from the Knockninny parish.  The offertory gifts were presented by representatives of the religious orders working in Kilmore while Sharon Boyle gave the post-communion reflection.  Local participants in the John Paul II Awards Programme distributed copies of the Mass booklet before Mass and circulated copies of the Pastoral Plan as the congregation dispersed at the end of Mass.  Fr. Enda Murphy, Diocesan Director of Pastoral Services and Youth Ministry, was Master of Ceremonies assisted by Seán Coll, Director of the Diocesan Pastoral Centre, who was also responsible for overseeing the logistics of the launch.  The combined choirs of St. Ninnidh’s (Derrylin) and St. Mary’s (Teemore) in the Knockninny parish enhanced the liturgy with their beautiful music which befitted the occasion and was the source of much favourable comment afterwards.

35 candles – one for each parish in Kilmore – were lit in the sanctuary.  These were the same candles that were lit during the Assembly Mass celebrated in the Cathedral of SS. Patrick and Felim in Cavan the previous October.

In his homily, Bishop O’Reilly said that the new plan provided a set of goals and objectives which would hopefully be achieved in the parishes and the diocese of Kilmore over the next few years.  He said that this was the third such plan during his time as bishop of Kilmore so far and that plans need to be kept upgraded to meet the changing times we live in.  “We can’t keep doing things the way they used to be done”, he said reechoing the view of Pope Francis.  “The Plan”, he said, “is an attempt to rethink goals, structures and style of our mission in Kilmore”.  He commended the plan to each parish community and asked that everyone read and reflect on it, and that it should be a regular item on Parish Pastoral Council agendas.  He concluded by asking that everyone play their part in implementing the plan in their community and sphere of life so that “the message of Christ may be proclaimed and that all may have the opportunity to experience the joy of the Gospel”.

Fr. Enda Murphy, in his address to the congregation, reminded those present that the Plan grew out of a listening survey conducted over 18 months throughout the diocese which fed into last October’s two-day Diocesan Assembly.  He said that the concerns expressed during those two days were reflected in the structure of the plan which envisions Kilmore becoming a truly missionary community.  He referred to the four main areas of the plan:

  1. Youth
  2. Sacraments, Liturgy & Prayer
  3. Diocesan Structures in light of declining numbers of clergy; and
  4. Support of Priests

Each of the four sections contains a number of proposals with indicative timeframes and a summary statement detailing what is expected to be achieved in each area.  Fr Murphy said that the publication of the plan was not an end in itself and that the real hard work begins now in its implementation.  He said that the diocese has sought to give more formal structures to the participation of lay people in the life of the Church in Kilmore for many decades.  “There have been many frustrations along the way”, he said, “and there will probably be frustrations aplenty in the years to come.  Each of us, clergy and laity alike, are living through an intense and important time for the life of the Church.  The tectonic plates of faith and culture have shifted and the ground which once appeared so solid under our feet has been shaken”.  He reminded the congregation that 52 of the 77 priests in the diocese are over the age of 60, and of the remaining 25, 4 are under 40, 10 are under 50, and 25 are under 60.  He concluded by encouraging those present to take the plan with them as they left, to read it, and to see how it can become a reality in the parishes and the dioceses.

Bishop O’Reilly paid tribute to local parish priest, Fr. Fintan McKiernan, the local Parish Pastoral Council in Knockninny, and volunteers who put in a tremendous amount of time and effort into preparing for the Mass, launch and hospitality afterwards.  Great care was taken to ensure that everything went smoothly and the level of attention to detail was exemplary.  Everyone certainly rose to the challenge and this was evident throughout the day with no aspect of the launch overlooked.

Nearly 300 people were the guests of the parish at a meal afterwards in St. Ninnidh’s Hall nearby where more young local traditional musicians performed. A great team of volunteers ensured that everyone present was made feel welcome and have an excellent meal.  St John Ambulance personnel were also in attendance and their reassuring presence was appreciated.    

Photographs supplied are courtesy of Noel Kerins of Bygone Memories (085 8552166

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