Diocesan Pastoral Assembly
“There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always the same Lord; working in all sorts of different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them.”
(I Cor. 12:4-6).
The Diocesan Pastoral Assembly was established by Bishop Deenihan in May 2022. It is a representative body of the diocesan community comprised of clergy, religious, and lay people working in close partnership with the Bishop. Its fundamental task is to discern the pastoral needs of the diocese and explore ways to support Bishop Deenihan in responding adequately to those needs.
Reflecting on the Diocesan Pastoral Assembly, Bishop Deenihan remarked,
The Diocesan Pastoral Assembly's task is first and foremost to offer a model of collaboration and co-responsibility between the bishop, priests, and people, and second, lead our parish communities in mission. Pope Francis describes pastoral councils as: ‘The presence of God in a given territory, an environment for hearing God’s word, for growth in the Christian life, for dialogue, proclamation, charitable outreach, worship and celebration’. EG #28
I have previously expressed a desire that every parish will soon have a Parish Pastoral Assembly ‘as a visible, practical and local sign of synodality of the people of God walking together on the path of the Gospel.’ Guided by the Holy Spirit, my hope is the newly formed Diocesan Pastoral Assembly will identify and reflect on matters of pastoral importance, support the work of pastoral development and assist in the implementation of the synodal process. In partnership with existing structures in the Diocese, the Diocesan Pastoral Assembly will offer practical, pastoral solutions in developing a diocesan pastoral plan and support the urgent work of evangelisation.
The Catholic Church has had a long tradition of co-operative action to help the bishop care for God's people in his diocese. Specifically, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council urged every diocese to establish a pastoral council ""whose responsibility is to investigate under the authority of the Bishop all those things which pertain to pastoral works, to ponder them, and to propose practical conclusions about them.""
(Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops, no.27).
The Diocesan Pastoral Assembly creates a 'central forum' for exchange of information and ideas on a diocesan-wide level and to strengthen the bonds of communication between the bishop and the parishes of the Diocese.
The Diocesan Pastoral Assembly recently ratified Diocesan 'Norms for Parish Pastoral Assemblies' and 'Best Practice for Parish Pastoral Assemblies' as a resource and support for parishes establishing Parish Pastoral Assemblies.
Diocesan Pastoral Council Membership:
Bishop Tom Deenihan (President)
Rena Wyse (Dunboyne)
Anne Smyth (Kells)
Michelle Daly (Navan)
Grace Brennan (Kinnegad)
Mary Stefanazzi (Collinstown-Fore)
Roger Maxwell (Castlepollard)
Martin Gillick (Tullamore)
Ray McHugh (Drumraney)
Donal Lawlor (Mullingar)
Sr. Dympna Lynch (Religious-Mullingar)
Donna McQuaid-Cahill (Oldcastle)
Teresa White (Delvin)
Aidan Raftery (Drogheda)
Oisín Walsh (Trim)
Fr. Joseph Gallagher VG (Tullamore)
Fr. Seán Henry PP (Dunshaughlin)
Fr. Stan Deegan PP (Killcan-Raharney)
Fr. Vincent Daka CC (Mullingar)
Fr. Derek Darby EV (Mullingar)
Training for newly formed Parish Pastoral Assemblies is underway across the Diocese. Bishop Tom has expressed a wish for each parish to have completed the process of etablishing a Pastoral Assembly by the end of September 2023.
Fr. Derek Darby, Episcopal Vicar for Pastoral Planning and Development, along with the Leadership Training Team are working with parishes in facilitating this process.
The Parish Pastoral Assembly is a faith-filled, consultative body of the faithful, through which priests and people work together as co-responsible partners in furthering the mission of Christ in their own parish. Further details on the role of a Parish Pastoral Assembly are available on the diocesan website: https://www.dioceseofmeath.ie/_files/ugd/f27feb_cafca8f0e53443bcafdf02060c84c282.pdf
Parishes are invited to keep this process in their prayers over the coming months.