The post-pandemic Church is going to be different and it is going to involve real openness and radical change, Bishop Fintan Gavin told congregations in Ardfield/Rathbarry Parish.
Bishop Fintan made his first pastoral visit to the parish on the weekend of June 26/27th and was warmly welcomed by parishioners and Fr. Pat McCarthy.
Bishop Fintan celebrated the Saturday evening Mass in Rathbarry and the Sunday morning Mass in Ardfield.
Because of the pandemic, the numbers attending both Masses were restricted. But there was an excellent turnout of people outside both Churches to issue a Céad Míle Fáilte to the Bishop.
The Catholic Church that will emerge from these uncertain times will see re-configured parish faith communities focused on Mission, Bishop Fintan said..
“We will reach out to those on the margins of our church community, those who no longer feel part of our church faith community, many of our young people, and those hurt by the Church.”
“The Holy Spirit is enabling us to reach out so they can encounter Christ just as Jairus and the woman did in the gospel so their lives can be touched by Christ and his life giving gospel message.”
The bishop also confirmed that after 18 years of generous and faithful service Fr Pat McCarthy will retire this summer as the parish priest of Ardfield/Rathbarry.
Due to rapidly decreasing numbers of priests, Fr Pat McCarthy will not be replaced by a priest only serving that parish.
The bishop told parishioners that the priests in the nearby parishes of Barryroe, Rosscarbery, Rossmore, Clonakilty and Timoleague have agreed to share in the joint responsibility for the six parishes so that the pastoral needs can be met and they will be able to support one another.
“This change to a ‘family of parishes’ will involve each of you, members of those six parish faith communities working closer together on various joint initiatives, for example, baptism teams, funeral teams, music ministry, initiatives of welcome and reaching out.”
“It will involve greater responsibility by the people of the parish for the faith community in co-responsibility with the priests.”
After both Masses representatives of the Parish Assembly and the Finance Committee made presentations to the Bishop to mark his first visit to the parish.