Back in May 2010, Fr Kieran O’Reilly was appointed Bishop of Killaloe, replacing Bishop Willie Walsh. I liked the sound then of a bishop whose whole life experience as a pastor had been in a missionary context.
Now, that missionary approach is even more topical, even more a focus of the Church’s approach to evangelisation, since it is a key theme of Pope Francis pontificate: the word ‘missionary’ appears 74 times in Evangelii Gaudium, the apostolic exhortation which is really this Pope’s manifesto, the guide to his thinking and his vision. A Church which has moved to missionary mode is central to that vision:
“I dream of a “missionary option”, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelisation of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.” (EG 27)
It isn’t really surprising then that Pope Francis has today appointed a missionary to one of the key roles in Church leadership in Ireland: Bishop Kieran is to be the new Archbishop of Cashel & Emly, joining Archbishops Eamon Martin, Diarmuid Martin and Michael Neary as one of Ireland’s four Archbishops.
The appointment is another source of hope for the future of the Irish Church: recent episcopal appointments have added a group of young(ish!), dynamic, courageous – and (hopefully!) holy – people to the Irish Bishops Conference, men such as Bishop Brendan Leahy, Bishop Kevin Doran, Archbishop Eamon Martin among others – people who inspire confidence, who are not shy about speaking in the media, presenting the vision of the Church calmly, compassionately, clearly. Along with the many groups of lay people who are creating pockets of dynamic evangelisation, they seem well prepared to man the missionary field hospital the Pope is calling the Catholic Church to be.
In all this, I think we should be ever grateful to Pope Emeritus Benedict for sending us Archbishop Charles Brown, a truly outstanding Nuncio, at a most opportune moment.
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It is always worth reading the text of any of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s talks. In spite of huge focus on the “strong forces” (which quickly became “dark forces”) phrase in his talk to the Knights of Columbanus, there was a huge amount to reflect on – and to act on in that talk.
Likewise in his recent address in the UK to the Oxford Newman Society. The lecture gives us more insight into the Archbishop’s approach to the whole abuse scandal. It also gives more insights into how the much spoken of renewal might take place. In particular I feel he really hits the nail on the head in his analysis of the roots of the crisis of faith in the Church here in Ireland.
And I wholeheartedly agree with his comments on the role of the parish in a new look Church:
A form of religious education which is separated from the parish or some other non-school faith community will almost inevitably cave in the day that school ends. Sacramental formation belongs within the Christian community which welcomes and supports each of us on our journey. We need a more demanding catechesis, within a parish framework, for those who wish to come forward for admission to the sacraments.
This is something very close to my own heart – how can we expect people now or ever to stay close to a faith they know little about. I don’t think it’s any exaggeration to quote St Paul’s
but how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?
Take a few minutes to read the whole text – it’ll only take you about 10 minutes.
4 June 2010 | Address of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to the to Oxford University Newman Society.
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Just heard that Fr Kieran O’Reilly has been appointed as new bishop of Killaloe, replacing Bishop Willie Walsh. So of course I googled him – and I like what I see. A missionary bishop – that sounds like exactly what Ireland might just need at the moment.
In fact the the list of skills he has sounds like a wish list you might write for a new bishop here. He has pastoral experience in various parts of Africa, has done academic studies in Sacred Scripture but has particular interest too in justice issues. Very importantly, he has great leadership experience, having been twice elected Superior General of the Society of African Missions (SMA). He’s also quite young, and having been out of Ireland for much of his ministry, will be able to bring much need fresh perspectives. I like what he has to say about need for on-going theological training for priests and for others trying to bring the faith into the world. Here’s an example from the 2008 Synod of Bishops on the theme “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church”: Fr Kieran O’Carroll on Sacred Scripture in the Church.
But the thing I like most is that he is a missionary. That’s what we need here.
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I will be commenting in more detail on the quite long talk given by Archbishop Martin last night. He covered a lot of issues and made some really excellent points that are rarely made. I’m making this short post now to strongly urge you to read the full talk – there is a lot more to what he said than the short and dramatic sounding extracts we’ve been hearing today.
Here’s the link: THE FUTURE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN IRELAND- Speaking Notes of Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin, 10th May 2010
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I’m doing a ‘mindmap’ type chart of the main points of the Pope’s Letter. It’s still a work in progress but I thought I’d put up what I’ve done so far. When it’s finished, I’ll add a link to go the a more user-friendly way of looking at it. (28th Mar: Just updated it again – nearly there now! More soon…)
Click on the map to open it in its own window so you can read it, and click it again to zoom in or out. Hope it’s useful:
♦ NOTE: (The mindmap on this post is not complete – click here for the finished version Completed Mindmap of Pope’s Letter )
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Nothing in the media coverage I heard and read today gave any real sense of the significance or even of the content of the Pope’s pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland.
Naturally, secular commentators were looking for the kind of things you’d expect of say, a large corporation, or a government: you know – reshuffles, sackings, audits from HQ. That’s why the proposed Apostolic Visit got a lot of mention, and the words of apology: they make sense from a purely human point of view. And that’s why people were looking for news on the resignations and said they couldn’t see much by way of a plan of action.
But this is not a letter from the CEO of a company. It is a pastoral letter from the leader of the Catholic people. Same difference? No – not same difference! HUGE difference! There’s an infinite difference between someone who believes that God who created everything, entered history at a particular time and place, and lived here on earth, and that he did that because he wants us to share his life. That’s pretty amazing and pretty radical. And it gives you a completely different way of thinking about everything. There’s a big difference between someone who thinks like that – and someone who believes we live and die, and that’s it.
So the things that might strike a person of faith are things that, looked at without faith, make little sense or no sense at all: offering Friday penances (Friday what?) for one year for the renewal of the Church here; discovering again the sacrament of Reconciliation (isn’t Confession a thing of the past??) As for Eucharistic Adoration – what good is that going to do??
But though eyes that see the world differently, there are the seeds of a real renewal of the Church here, if we decide to take it.
(More to come on Pope’s Letter)
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I’d like to thank Robert and Catherine (see comments on last post) for drawing my attention to some links that are well worth highlighting (see expanded links list to the left) and in particular for the reminder that just because we don’t always see these statements in the mainstream media, doesn’t always mean that the Church hasn’t been trying to get its message out. I really recommend adding the link Robert suggested to your favourites : catholicbishops.ie press releases.
Even better – subscribe to an RSS feed for updates to this page. “What does that mean – ‘subscribe to an RSS feed’? ” I hear you ask. Well, it’s a really helpful way of getting your computer to let you know every time a website is updated. In this case it lets you know when a new press release is added.
On both the catholicbishops.ie home page and on the press releases page you’ll see a little orange square with the message: “Subscribe to press releases”. Click the orange square. You have a few options: if you use Firefox (which offers some nice options) you’ll now see at the top of the new window that opens a drop-down menu with the message: “subscribe to this feed using..” You can choose between “Live Bookmarks” which puts a bookmark called ‘Catholic Communications Office’ at the top of your browser window. The other options are good if you have set up your own personalised page in iGoogle or My Yahoo! If you choose these, a new box opens in your personalised page with the headlines of the most recent press releases – you can just glance over every time you open your iGoogle or My Yahoo! page.
If you use Safari, clicking the RSS feed orange square opens a window with summaries of the most recent updates (press releases). In the right margin of the window, you’ll see a blue area with options you can select. The very last option, under Actions, is ‘Add bookmark..’ This adds a bookmark which will open a window with the most recent releases. (Not as neat as Firefox but still handy).
Kildare & Leighlin are online!
If you don’t quite get what I’m saying – just give it a try and see what happens. In his message for World Day of Communications 2010, Pope Benedict challenged priests to “proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelisation and catechesis.” And when the priests and the Church goes to the effort of doing this, the least we can do is tune in – the Pope himself wants us to 😀
I use a Mac (so cool!) so I’m not sure how the RSS feeds work on a PC – pretty similarly I presume. But if you use a PC and don’t mind admitting it, feel free to add a comment on any differences in how you go about subscribing. And don’t be put off by the word “subscribe” – it’s free!
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