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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I hope that you and your loved ones are keeping well. I was privileged to meet with many of you during the synodal conversations that I participated in since I arrived in the Diocese almost two years ago.

Throughout our discussions, there was a raised awareness of the baptismal call we all share, a call that inspires each one of us towards faith, hope and love. We each have gifts to offer in building communities of welcome and belonging.

The need for training and formation to enable and empower us to play a renewed role in the ongoing life of the Church was very much evident, particularly during the four deanery meetings in the Springtime that focused exclusively on training. Now is a good time to outline some of the planned initiatives that we have prayerfully discerned with the help of the Holy Spirit.

In the Autumn of this year, I will be inviting people to participate in developing the faith life of the families, parishes and pastoral areas of the Diocese. We will be encouraging a renewal of mission from committed lay people to prepare for and take up specific roles which in the past were undertaken by ordained ministers.

After a series of consultations with the people and priests of the Diocese on the kinds of training that will be needed to facilitate the future flourishing of faith in the Diocese, it has been agreed that we need several different strands of training. These will suit different people with different interest areas and with different amounts of time to participate. The consultation for this training was thorough as required by our call to Synodality.

To quote Pope Francis – “We need lay people who are formed well, animated by a clear and sincere faith, whose lives have been touched by a personal and merciful encounter with the love of Jesus Christ. We need lay people who take risks, soil their hands, who are not afraid of making mistakes, who move forward. We need lay people with a vision of the future.” (Pontifical Council for the Laity 2016)

Here in Ferns, following Pope Francis’ invitation and the expressed wishes of the people of the Diocese, we will be inviting women and men, to be formed as:

· Catechists, to work with families and children in the parish who are preparing for the three great sacraments of welcome – Baptism, First Holy Communion and Confirmation;

· Pastoral Care Workers, to work with the sick and the housebound and to assist families in the time around funerals and bereavements;

· Leaders of Parish Prayer with Scripture, to build up their capacity to lead communities in prayer and Liturgy;

· Parish Administrators and Leaders who will ensure the continuation and viability of the individual parish communities of the Diocese when they will not have a resident priest;

· Facilitators with Accord, to help couples prepare well for the Sacrament of Marriage and for their life together.

We will be looking for people who want to share the deep gladness that they find in the person of Jesus in the Gospels with those who have yet to experience the Good News.

Pope Francis put the call to the Church in this way: “Unless we train ministers capable of warming hearts, of walking with people in the night, of dialoguing with their hopes and disappointments, of mending their brokenness, what hope can we have for our present and future journey? It isn’t true that God’s presence has been dimmed in them. Let us learn to look at things more deeply. What is missing is someone to warm their hearts” (28th July ‘13).

In September, we will be sending information to each parish and this will be followed by information evenings to provide further details on courses. In September, I invite you to keep an eye on your parish newsletter or you can contact the Pastoral Development Office at or 053 9124368 after September 1st to get the dates of the information evenings. In the meantime, I would ask that you continue to pray for the Diocese, that the decisions we make in the months and years ahead will draw us closer to Christ and his Kingdom.

Yours sincerely,

+Ger Nash

Bishop of Ferns

17th August 2023


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