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God has plans for His people. A Pastoral Letter

God has plans for His people.
Join in the Mission of Prayer, Exploration and Renewal.

This weekend, Bishop Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry publishes a Pastoral Letter to the people of the Diocese of Derry 'God has plans for His people. Join in the Mission of Prayer, Exploration and Renewal.'

Bishop McKeown point out the direction of travel for the diocese over the next number of years and invites "all our local parishes to have prayerful discussions about how each can explore and review our way of being Church so that we:

  • Build an open and welcoming community, reaching those who feel like outsiders in our churches;
  • Grow in faith together throughout our lives; and
  • Make Jesus known and loved.

"Faith means believing that God is at work, even in difficult times. Faith involves discerning where God is in the middle of fear and loss, anger and division.

"It is very clear that, like much of Europe, the Diocese of Derry faces many difficulties:

  1. The model of Church that seemed so confident 50 years ago is no longer marked by large numbers at Mass. Where smaller numbers attend Mass, there is a lesser chance of bringing people to know and love Jesus, of numerous vocations to priesthood and religious life.
  2. The scandal of abuse and cover-ups from the past have damaged our ability to speak about Jesus with moral authority.
  3. To a large extent we have failed to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus to young people.
  4. We face a secular culture which has little time for faith communities. Along with other Christian churches, we know that the problem in the future will not be religious difference so much as religious indifference.
  5. Our society is stalked by fears of poverty, war in Europe and a climate emergency.

A future full of hope will involve change
"In our time of listening and sharing during our parish synodal conversations, there was a recognition of change in our faith community. But the key question is not merely how we change so that we can maintain the current model and structures. With that model we have been failing in our mission of bringing people to know and love Jesus.

"If we ask the right question, we discover that renewal is not only a question of managing changed structures and rescheduling parish Mass. This is a time where we need to make space for grace so that God's plans – and not our limited imagination - can renew the mission of the Church.

"I believe that we will be more like the Holy Spirit-filled Body of Christ when our diocese is blessed with many:
- Families which hand on the faith;
- People of all ages exploring and developing their faith;
- Lay people with the official ministries of Lector, Acolyte and Catechist;
- Consecrated Virgins – who publicly dedicate their lives to the Lord but live and work among their fellow-parishioners
- Female and male religious (such as the Carmelites and various communities of religious Sisters and Brothers);
- Permanent Deacons; and
- Ordained priests.

"I encourage each parish to promote a specific period of time to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament to pray and reflect on this mission of renewal. Only by being open to the Sacrament of the Cross will we be renewed.

"In a context of prayer and of openness to the Holy Spirit, I invite the parishes of the diocese to set out on this mission of renewal, believing that if we listen for the voice of the Lord, we can enter into His peace. Like generations of missionaries before us, we walk into the future, filled with hope, that the Lord has already prepared for us."

Read Bishop McKeown's full Pastoral Letter at:

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Diocesan Offices
St Eugene’s Cathedral
Francis Street, Derry
BT48 9AP

Tel: 028 7126 2302

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