The Armagh Diocesan Pastoral Plan has nine working groups. This section outlines the rationale of each group, in the hope of providing an insight into their work.
From a Christian perspective ministry is a service rendered to others in Christ and because of Christ. The vocation to minister is rooted in baptism and confirmation. Thus all Christians are called to minister and have a responsibility to minister. This broad understanding of ministry has opened up the possibility of recognizing that much of what happens within family life is ministry. When we speak of family ministry we begin primarily with the ministry that family members carry out within their own family and secondly the ministry that families carry out within their church, community, society and world.
Outreach and Ecumenism
Priorities in this area will vary from region to region and decisions about priorities need to be assessed at local level. The group therefore focuses on modeling successful experiences throughout the diocese and hope they can be of help and support at local level in encouraging networking. “We strive for greater inclusion of the growing diversity of peoples in the diocese of Armagh.” This diversity can be seen through the many languages, socio economic groups, the range of cultural heritages and the spectrum of professions and jobs which exist in our diocese. So much good work is happening in the context of ecumenism and outreach that we would hope to share something of this to the advantage of local communities
Care for Priests
Priesthood is intrinsic to the life of the church. The role of the priest is diverse and essential to the mission of our diocese. The work of this group focuses on providing the necessary support for priesthood in order that it can be a sign of Christ through the example of the priests faith and through the pastoral service each priest gives. Through support and encouragement the priest should be able to grow spiritually, emotionally and intellectually and become an inspiration to all members of the church.
Role of Women in Church
Through our Baptism we are initiated into the People of God, committed to a relationship with Christ and to making visible His presence by living as his disciples. Our Committee is concerned to empower the full membership of every parishioner to make this baptismal gift a reality. “Because women have traditionally been marginalised and limited, our focus is to explore the present obstacles and ensure growth to full life in Christ”. There are many examples of women in the Gospel that can inspire us.
Adult Faith Formation
Catholics who come to know Jesus Christ have always sought ways of explaining their experience of Him to others, and of displaying this experience through faith directed action. There is now the challenge to share this with a new generation. Clearly only those who have first taken this truth to themselves, who experience the presence and the power of the Spirit of Jesus, can truly grasp this tradition and pass it on to others. This group focuses on organizing events and initiatives allowing adults to explore their own faith journey and experiences, and in doing so developing their own faith formation.
The group seeks to enhance our experience of God through the planning of meaningful liturgies. There work is centred on enabling the entire diocese to encounter the mystery of God revealed to us through Christ. Through the production of rich resources, excellent courses, and being instrumental in bringing about changes in our liturgical practices we hope all can encounter ‘full, conscious and active participation in liturgical celebrations’ which is so strongly emphasized by Vatican II in the Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy.
P.A.L.S focus on four areas. Parish Pastoral Councils (P), Attending to Parish and Diocesan structures (A), Leadership and Training in the Church (L), Diocesan and Parish Surveys (S). It is hoped that the work of this group will encourage a ‘spirituality of communion’ without which our structures would be merely institutional. This in turn means the group will focus on attempting to find structures which will lead to increased participation, a Church working together and accountability for our diocesan mission.
Prayer and Spirituality
The group aims to provide nourishment for people through their experience of prayer and companionship in the Lord by the existence of small prayer groups and providing the opportunity for different types of reflective prayer experiences As Pope Benedict XVI has indicated: “In the Church’s Liturgy, in her prayer, in the living community of believers, we experience the love of God, we perceive his presence and we thus learn to recognize that presence in our daily lives” Deus Caritas Est. It is vital that we continue to be nourished through the Eucharist, but that we also encounter Christ in all people whom we meet and through personal reflection on the Word of God.
The group’s vision is of a church in which young people, motivated by a personal faith in Christ, will feel accepted, valued and empowered to fully participate.The work of this group ensures that young people are encouraged and affirmed on their journey of faith. Through leadership training, school, parish and diocesan initiatives, we seek to enrich the Christian community.