Ireland: Bishop Doran unveils ministry for lay people
The Tablet01 June 2016 | by Sarah Mac Donald in Dublin
The initiative has been compared to the introduction of permanent deaconsThe diocese of Elphin has announced it will start recruiting and training voluntary lay catechists for the first time this autumn, to provide a greater pastoral and catechetical outreach.
This new role will see lay people commissioned as leaders of faith-based education programmes who will work with parish communities and priests, whose numbers continue to decline and whose age profile continues to rise.
Just nine men were ordained as transitional deacons for the Irish Church’s 26 dioceses last week in Maynooth, Co. Kildare.
Announcing the new venture for Elphin, Bishop Kevin Doran said it was time to establish the ministry of catechist in every parish community.
He said the new volunteer catechists would aim to nourish the faith of those who are already active in their local Christian community while fanning the flame of faith in those who have drifted away from the practice of their faith.
They will also seek to engage with those who have no faith. The training programme will be part-time and spread over four years with costs borne by the diocese.
Colette Furlong, a catechist in the Sligo Parishes Cluster, said the new catechists would provide a link missing up to now between the ideal of lay involvement in pastoral and catechetical outreach for confirmation and baptism, and the theological grounding needed to do this effectively. “This broadens our pastoral and catechetical options for the future,” she said.
The initiative has been compared to the introduction of permanent deacons.