They are soaked to the skin; they are cold and wet and yet they are getting on with the job. That image speaks volumes and epitomises the goodwill, the generosity and the sense of pride that has been replicated by so many groups of people throughout this parish in recent weeks. Countless parishioners involved with liturgies, hospitality, stewarding, preparing the church etc., etc. deserve the greatest praise and appreciation. To each and every one of you I offer my heartfelt thanks and congratulations.”
In his homily, the Most Rev Gerard Clifford, Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh said that the restoration of Dungannon Church to its original beauty and integrity, work to ensure its stability, and the renewal of the sanctuary area has taken two years. The Bishop congratulated Dean Curry, the priests of the parish and the parishioners together with the architects, contractors and all associated with this achievement.
He referred to the challenges of renewing not just the physical church but of renewing the faith of the whole community. This archdiocese has taken several steps in this direction in recent years not least consulting, involving and training laity.
Working groups have covered key topics like what it means to be a Catholic in the twenty-first century, formation in prayer, building up support for family, addressing the needs of young people, liturgical renewal, outreach to the marginalised, ecumenism, and the life of the priest.
Parish structures have been looked at to ensure that all can contribute to renewal. Lay people are now more involved in the mission of the Church, particularly addressing the pastoral needs in parish councils, in catechesis for young people at parish level and in administration at inter-parish level.
Eighteen areas have been identified and everyone will have a priest as Vicar Forane to direct the programme of renewal in the pastoral area. To allay any fears about parishes losing their own identity the guarantee is given that every parish will retain its own independence and its financial integrity. The reason for new pastoral areas is precisely for more effective pastoral outreach and the rationalisation of pastoral work. In time the rationalisation of Masses and the duplication of church services will be addressed.
“Hopefully 2009 will go down in the history of our diocese as the year that gave direction to a new pastoral approach opening up new opportunities for lay people, religious and priests working together to be part of a comprehensive approach towards renewal of faith,” said Bishop Clifford.