Waterford Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan issues pastoral letter to diocese
The Bishop of Waterford and Lismore Most Rev Alphonsus Cullinan has asked where the church is going as it starts a new decade.
In a pastoral letter, he calls for prayer for marriages and for vocations to the priesthood or religious life.
Bishop Cullinan says in the coming weeks and months he will be visiting pastoral councils around the diocese, which covers Waterford and parts of South Tipperary, to outline details on his plan for the future. He points out that his plan includes the appointment of a youth ministry officer and a faith development officer.
“Are you satisfied by what is happening in your parish? Are you happy that young people have so few to minister to them?,” he asks.
“Are you happy with the way society is going? As a church where are we going? What, as it were, is the sign on the bus? What is the vision?
“The vision I see is of a church where people have a real and living relationship with Jesus; are seeking holiness in their daily lives; are reaching out to their sisters and brothers; and using their gifts from the Holy Spirit to bring the mercy and healing love of God to others. That is the sign on the bus. It is a vision of a church which, starting from a relationship with Jesus, looks outward rather than inward.
“About 90% of our people are not coming to church regularly, so we must go out ‘and seek the lost’ (Lk.19:10). If we take a close look at the culture around us, we see the great need for God's grace and our cooperation with that grace.
“There is now a new culture which is trying to undo the truths of the entire Judeo-Christian system from the ground up by redefining the meaning of personhood, of marriage, of the family, classifying people on the basis of their sexual preference, raising individual rights over those of the unborn and denigrating the sacredness of human life to its natural end. We must wake up to what is happening and with the grace of God change the culture from within.
“If you and I want a culture which is healthy, where family life is helped and supported, where people have hope and can live in freedom to love God and their neighbors as themselves, then we must play our part,” he continues.
He says that in the Pastoral Plan of June 2019, a way forward until 2024 has been mapped out with material gathered during the listening process throughout the diocese in 2017/18.
“There are specific things to do and targets to reach. Will you play your part? You too have a vocation - married life, the single life, the priesthood or religious life. Through your vocation, you have a part to play in building up God's Kingdom.
“God has put you where you are to do good. In the next weeks and months I will be visiting the parish pastoral councils to encourage as many as possible to implement our plan. Part of that plan was to appoint a youth ministry officer and a faith development officer. Both of these appointments have been made but, as the successful candidates are both in employment and study until the summer, they will begin work in the Autumn,” he says.
Bishop Cullinan says the Alpha Programme is proving popular across the diocese. The five NET Ministries are going around to schools and some parishes giving their faith testimonies, animating people's faith to strengthen their relationship with Jesus.
“In the past year we have welcomed two new religious orders to the diocese. The Holy Family Mission in Glencomeragh is flourishing. For growth to happen we need prayer.
“Pope Francis writes in Evangelii Gaudium: ‘Without prolonged moments of adoration, of prayerful encounter with the word, of sincere conversation with the Lord, our work easily becomes meaningless. We lose energy as a result of weariness and difficulties, and our fervour dies out’.
“The church urgently needs the deep breath of prayer, and to my great joy groups devoted to prayer and intercession, the prayerful reading of God's word, and the perpetual adoration of the Eucharist are growing at every level of ecclesial life.
“Pope Francis is asking us to fall in love with Jesus Christ the Saviour and bring him to others. The Diocesan Eucharistic Adoration Committee is trying to encourage more hours of adoration in parishes across our diocese. Nothing good is possible without prayer. There are so many good things going on across the diocese and so many more possible. You can keep up to speed with events through the monthly diocesan e-newsletter,” he says.