Greater lay involvement in Dublin’s Catholic archdiocese

Deaneries now to include lay people

Archbishop Martin has welcomed the broad support for the enhanced role of the laity in Dublin’s Catholic archdiocese. Photograph: Alan Betson /The Irish Times

Archbishop Martin has welcomed the broad support for the enhanced role of the laity in Dublin’s Catholic archdiocese. Photograph: Alan Betson /The Irish Times


An enhanced role for the laity in Dublin’s Catholic archdiocese grows apace with the announcement that, for the first time ever, lay people will now be able to take part in deanery meetings.

It follows an agreement by Dublin’s Council of Priests and as adopted by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. Up to this such meetings were mostly attended only by priests.

From this week the archdiocese’s 16 deanery groupings will include participation by parish pastoral workers, deacons, religious, chaplains and representatives from each parish pastoral council.

The archdiocese’s deaneries meet four times a year to look at pastoral planning for its area over the following quarter. The deaneries foster common pastoral programmes and activities among local parishes.

Archbishop Martin has welcomed the broad support for these changes, especially from priests themselves. He thanked the Council of Priests for being a pioneer in areas such as establishing parish pastoral councils in every parish, introducing the permanent deaconate and full-time lay parish pastoral workers.

The archdiocese now has 13 team ministries, where three or more parishes work together with groups of priests, parish pastoral workers, deacons and religious.

Another 26 parishes are grouped and share a parish priest or administrator.

Dublin was the first Catholic diocese in Ireland to introduce a parish pastoral worker programme, which it did in 2008, as well as in training and employing lay men and women to work in parishes.

There are now 27 parish pastoral workers in the archdiocese. It was also the first to introduce the permanent deaconate, in 2012, and now has 14 ordained deacons ministering in parish teams. Each parish in Dublin is supported by a parish pastoral council made up mainly of lay volunteers.

In an overview of the archdiocese, Archbishop Martin said one of its most striking facts was that 16 per cent of its population is under the age of 9. This would pose significant challenges in the years ahead in the provision of education but also in resourcing evangelisation programmes among a young, largely urban populace.

He said: “the overall religious culture in the diocese is continually changing and our pastoral responses must continually change. However, pastoral planning should not get bogged down in the mechanics of consultation and just in structures. An inward-looking Church will not change hearts and will not enthuse people.”

He continued: “We have to reach out, as Pope Francis says, to those who are living on the margins of our society and on the margins of Church life. I am convinced that we can do it and part of my conviction comes from witnessing in recent years how our parish pastoral councils have shown that they want to move forward in this way and they want to do what is best for the Church.”