We need to reach out and spread the good news when so much bad news is dominating the headlines.
That is the message coming from the newly commissioned Newry Parish Pastoral Council as they set out their four priorities for the coming year.
Chairman, John Rooney said:
“Churches around the world are having to adapt to the unprecedented challenges arising from Covid 19. Our parish is no different. The pandemic provides us with an opportunity to take a fresh look at the strategy of our parish. We are experiencing great transition, coming to terms with the changes forced upon us by this virus, letting go of the way things used to be and reorienting ourselves to how things are now and will be for the foreseeable future. The pastoral council believes that in a time when so much bad news is dominating the headlines we need to reach out and spread the good news.”Chairman John Rooney
John Rooney is originally from the Barcroft part of Newry and like many returned home to raise his family after working across the water.
The new parish pastoral council which took up office in September, is made up of a broad representation of men and women from different parts of the parish. They will work in a co-responsible way with the priests and religious. The council has held three meetings to reflect, pray and decide upon the direction and priorities which will advance the mission and life of the parish over the next twelve months. These have been identified as communication, faith development, young people and finance.
Vice Chair Kathleen O’Hare said
“Our role as a parish pastoral council is primarily concerned with promoting action through pastoral planning. We recognise and appreciate the important work undertaken by many volunteers and groups within our parish. Good communication and close collaboration with them will be essential and we look forward to working with them. There is a huge need for us to become a church without walls, to offer hope to people in a time of great uncertainty.”Vice Chair, Kathleen O’Hare
Kathleen O’Hare lives in Ballyholland. From 2012-2018, she was Principal of Hazelwood Integrated College in Belfast and from 2002-2012, she was Principal of St. Cecilia’s College in Derry.
While, on the one hand, the parish council is not immediately responsible for the implementation of projects, it ensures that they are carried out. The council will meet on a monthly basis during its three-year term of office.
The Pastoral Council is inviting views on how to improve parish communications via an online survey https://forms.gle/uetXqEfN1GGpAnx38. The closing date is Sunday 6 December 2020.
Representing the priests of the parish, Administrator Canon Francis Brown said:
“The pandemic means that the emphasis had shifted somewhat from gathering to connecting and we need to find new ways to do that. We want to encourage and support people both young and old with their faith development and encourage more of them to use their unique talents to participate in parish life and worship. The reduced capacity of our congregations as a result of social distancing and the fact that so many of our parishioners are self-isolating has significantly reduced the parish’s income. The need to deep clean our churches after every service has put extra pressure on our already stretched resources. We need to be bold and creative in how we address all of these issues.”Canon Francis Brown ADM
The other council members are:
Andre & Michelle Morgan
Anne Louise Munroe
Brian O Donnell
Eamon O Hare