Archbishop urges lay involvement in ‘radical renewal’ of Dublin archdiocese

Taskforce set up to devise strategy for church’s response to Covid-19 pandemic

Archbishop Dermot Farrell says clergy sometimes ‘overlook’ that the laity are called to share in the mission and ministry of the church. File photograph: Alan Betson

Archbishop Dermot Farrell says clergy sometimes ‘overlook’ that the laity are called to share in the mission and ministry of the church. File photograph: Alan Betson


Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell is planning a “radical renewal” of the archdiocese that will involve greater input from lay people in the church’s response to the needs of the community following the Covid-19 crisis.

In a Chrism homily on Wednesday, Archbishop Farrell announced he had established a taskforce to devise a strategy for a “church for the Dublin of tomorrow”.

The church community in the archdiocese faced “challenges which require immediate action, not least to prepare a recovery from the severe impact of the pandemic”, he said.

The taskforce, under the title Building Hope, will assess the needs of the people of the Archdiocese of Dublin’s 197 parishes, which are served by 350 active priests.

Based on this analysis, the unit, composed of clergy, religious and lay people, would prepare a “pastoral strategy” that supported faith communities to undertake a “radical renewal” that looked to the future with creativity and hope, Archbishop Farrell said.

The archbishop said clergy sometimes overlooked that the laity were called to share in the mission and ministry of the church. The ordained ministry “does not exhaust or monopolise this ministry” and the church “must draw on many people and listen to many voices”, he said.

“Such an approach requires both humility and courage to recognise that one cannot do everything on one’s own,” he said.

A new “synodal practice” will see every church member, starting with the young, incorporated more into the life and responsibilities of the church.

“Clergy must try to walk together with women and men with ever greater enthusiasm and without thinking that we already have the best answer or all the answers,” he added.

There was an “urgency” to this project, the archbishop added, and he had asked the taskforce to complete its work by the end of the summer.

The archbishop said he was also establishing an expert panel to examine the economic, social and pastoral situation in Dublin, as well as the trends that would “shape our situation over the next 25 years”.

Meanwhile, the Bishop of Killaloe spoke of the need to “mind and look out for our priests” during the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly those who are struggling to minister in a meaningful way due to restrictions.

In a Chrism homily in Ennis Cathedral on Thursday, Bishop Fintan Monahan paid tribute to the priests who continue to minister during the challenging pandemic times.

Much had changed in Ireland, mostly for the good, but not all, Bishop Monahan said.

The country was no longer the “land of saints and scholars”, but it was still a place of “stubborn kindness”, he said.

“Once every Irish mother’s dream: a son in Maynooth. No longer… Gone like the Ireland I remember, but never want restored,” he said.

He noted that 13 people were training for the Ministry of Pastoral Care, while another 12 were preparing for the Ministry of Catechist in the diocese.

The Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, Francis Duffy, spoke on Thursday of the suffering that had been experienced by frontline workers and people in hospitals and nursing homes during the pandemic.

“Over the last year we have witnessed the wonderful courage, sacrifice and kindness of so many people. We have lots of Good Samaritans,” he said.

Bishop Duffy said the church had “played its part in this crusade of caution” and created the “domestic church”, where families gathered around kitchen tables in prayer to follow online masses. Faith acknowledged that these were difficult times, but the risen Lord “remains undimmed” this Easter, he said.

“We look forward to the day when we can worship freely and meet up again with family, friends and neighbours with joy in our hearts,” he added.