December 2009 update

A constructive and fruitful meeting of the Vicars forane, the bishops and the co-ordinators of the Strengthening Parishes initiative was held in the Ó Fiaich Library, Armagh, on Friday 27 November 2009.
After the welcome from the Cardinal and the prayer, Andrew McNally and Tony Hanna presented a summary of the reports from the pastoral area priests’ meetings that were held in October and November 2009. After agreement among the Vicars forane that the summary was an accurate reflection of what was said at the pastoral area meetings of priests the Vicars forane discussed the findings. Five emerging proposals were agreed on by the Vicars forane and other items were identified as unfinished.
A. The Office of Pastoral Renewal and Family Ministry is to create a report of the meeting to be sent to all priests in the diocese. The Vicars forane are to invite the priests to a meeting the discuss the report before the next scheduled meeting of the Vicars forane on 2 February 2009.
This report was sent to the Vicars forane on the feast of St Francis Xavier, 3 December 2009.
B. It was agreed that the function of the pastoral area resource team can be described as follows:
Under the leadership of the Vicar forane the pastoral area resource team will help to strengthen each of the parishes in the pastoral areas by:
1. ensuring the effective sharing of the collective gifts and talents of the parishes in the pastoral area
2. identifying pastoral matters that can be done better together as a pastoral area than separately as individual parishes.
C. The following proposal with regard to lay leadership in the pastoral area was accepted:
That each pastoral area adopt one of two models with regard to lay leadership to support the work of the Vicar forane:
Either
•    A volunteer lay coordinator appointed from among the members of the pastoral area resource team after the initial training sessions
OR
•    A leadership team consisting of the Vicar forane and one lay member of the pastoral area resource team from each parish to be formed after the initial training sessions
It was also accepted that the lay coordinator could come from the same parish as the Vicar forane if everyone on the pastoral area resource team agreed.
D. With regard to training and the number of meetings of the pastoral area resource teams it was agreed that:
That there be three evening training sessions for each new pastoral area resource team to be held regionally between March and May 2010 and that there after the teams would meet four times a year.
The training will be held regionally with each session lasting two hours, from 7.30pm – 9.30pm.
•    Pastoral areas A, B, C, D and E will train together.
•    Pastoral areas F, G, H and I will train together.
•    Pastoral areas J, K, L, M and N will train together.
•    Pastoral areas O, P, Q and R will train together.
◦    The first round of training will be held on Tuesday 9, Wednesday 10, Thursday 11 and Thursday 18 March.
◦    The second round of training will be held on Wednesday 14, Thursday 15, Wednesday 21 and Thursday 22 April.
◦    It is proposed that the last round be held on Monday 10, Thursday 20, Monday 24 and Wednesday 26 May.
E. Cardinal Brady proposed that the bishops would make a visitation of the pastoral areas in 2010. This was considered to be an excellent idea andthe proposal was adopted.

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