Highlights from the launch of the Limerick diocesan Synod which will take place over three days with 350 delegates in the spring of 2016 .
Ireland’s first diocesan synod in half a century was launched on 7th Dec 2014 in Limerick, with Bishop Brendan Leahy asking all the people of the diocese to become involved in regenerating the Church.
In his homily at the midday Mass at St. John’s Cathedral, at which the Synod was officially convoked, the Bishop of Limerick said there is now an opportunity to rebuild the Church and urged that it not be missed.
The Synod will be a three day-meeting of 350 delegates in the spring of 2016 that will set out a blueprint for the Diocese to meet the many challenges it faces going forward. Between now and the Synod itself, delegates will engage in a process of reflection and sharing, catechesis and prayer, out of which they will identify the issues that will be discussed at the Synod.
The Synod delegates, who are already selected, are drawn from clergy and laity, representing younger and older generations and a wide range of socio economic backgrounds and ethnicities.
In his homily to a packed Cathedral, Bishop Leahy, “All of us together, clergy and lay, are being offered this opportunity to regenerate and build up the Church of the future in our diocese. Let’s not miss this appointment with history,” he said.
“It’s undeniable that our Church has been rocked. It has stumbled badly but it has not fallen. Yet, while the Church reeled, faith remained precious. The Church is in need of repair. It’s what the Lord told St. Francis in his time and tells us again now in our time.
“We need to look at it again, reimagine and re-arrange, not to the way it was before but something that fits the present day. We need to rebuild and repair, listening to what the Spirit is saying to the Church today.
“But that rebuild and repair, with Pope Francis as a guiding architect and his hand directed by the Holy Spirit, is not for the clergy alone to carry out. Far from it. The Church of tomorrow must be inclusive, regenerated by us all together, clergy and laity; those of great faith and those of challenged faith, working hand in hand to create a refreshed space where the windows are open and new air breathes in. I ask everyone in the Diocese to get involved in this.”
Bishop Leahy said that the Synod would be the moment to draw up new plans for the Diocese so that it is ready for “what I believe can be a new dawn breaking for the Church, a dawn we will all greet together.”
Addressing delegates, who came to the St. John’s today from across the county, he said, “There will be many paths to be made straight – paths of wounded hearts; paths of confused minds; paths of disappointed spirits, paths of rejected outreach. Through listening with your hearts full of mercy and patience, you can transform crooked pathways into opportunities to show something new is happening; Jesus is coming in a new way to heal wounds, bring light and clarity, sow seeds of hope and mercy.”
In his decree of convocation, Bishop Leahy said, “In convoking the Synod I am mindful of Pope Francis’ desire that we advance along the path of what he calls ‘a pastoral and missionary conversion which cannot leave things as they presently are’. We owe this to future generations and to the wider society that we want to serve.
“It means being bold and creative in the task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in our Diocesan community with its various parish and ecclesial, religious and social communities.”