It is the end result of a very detailed and comprehensive engagement that began three years ago with consultations with all of the priests and the pastoral councils within the diocese.
It intensified in the last year when all of the parishes became involved. Each of the sixty-one parishes had at least two facilitated focused conversations, religious congregations were consulted and almost all of the second level schools were engaged in making their contribution to the final map.
Most people who participated in the process recognize that it was a genuine effort at real, transparent consultation. The views of thousands of people were listened to and considered objectively before the final map took shape. The vast majority of those who engaged with the process are happy with the final outcome although some parishes remain somewhat disappointed. It was not possible to give every parish its ideal cluster. Ultimately, Cardinal Brady had to make his final decisions in the best interests of the diocese and he sees the new reality as the best way forward to strengthen parishes for the twenty first century.
The success of the new structures will depend on priests and laity working closely together in collaboration and there will be an intensive training programme put in place to enable this to work effectively. Seminars, skills training, workshops and theology courses will be presented throughout the diocese in an ongoing manner over the coming years to train priests and laity to meet the needs of the Irish Church at this time in our history.
Office of Pastoral Renewal and Family Ministry
Armagh Diocesan Pastoral Centre