Parish life will be very different in the future, says Catholic Primate

Priests and bishops will have to ‘let go’ as lay people become the new centre of gravity

Archbishop Eamon Martin predicts a very different role for clergy in Irish parishes. Photograph:  Niall Carson/PA Wire

Archbishop Eamon Martin predicts a very different role for clergy in Irish parishes. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

Parish life for Ireland’s Catholics will be very different in the future, Archbishop of Armagh and Catholic primate Eamon Martin has said. “It will impossible for us to hold on to the ways we lived in the past,” he has said.

“We are in a transition time between the relative security and certainties of past times and discovering what the Spirit wants of the Church in Ireland today and tomorrow,” he said.

In a recent address at the Seamus Heaney Home Place centre in Bellaghy, Co Derry, he said “parishes of tomorrow will be ‘communities of intentional disciples’ sustained by committed and formed lay people.

“The key to this will be the formation of cells, or smaller gatherings of committed people who meet and pray and develop together their understanding of faith, and who find there the courage to engage in mission and outreach,” he said.

Many parishes already had prayer groups, lectio divina groups, adult faith groups, youth groups or adoration teams, he said. “Each of these gives to its members a sense of belonging, identity, mission and vocation.”

He said it would “of course mean a certain amount of ‘letting go’ by priests and even bishops as the centre of gravity of life, worship and mission in the parish shifts from the parochial house or diocesan curia to the little domestic churches and gatherings of families on the ground.