27 Nov 2021

Lay men and women to take on pastoral roles within the Diocese of Limerick

Lay men and women to take on pastoral roles within the Diocese of Limerick

Bishop Brendan Leahy

MORE than 20 men and women are to take on pastoral roles within the Diocese of Limerick as part of the ongoing adaption for a more lay-involved future in leadership and ministry, it has been revealed.

According to Bishop Brendan Leahy, the 23 men and men are set to complete their Lay Pastoral Ministry and Leadership programmes shortly and will be also able to assist with pastoral opportunities when their training concludes.

To coincide with the announcement, an invitation to new candidates to step forward for the roles has been issued ahead of a number of information evenings later in the Autumn.

In addition to these roles, Bishop Leahy has also invited candidates interested in taking up roles as permanent deacons across the diocese to step forward.

Deacons had a ministry in the early Church, he said, which focused on service, both within the church community helping in the administration of the Diocese and in reaching out to the marginalised in society.

“Gradually, they also helped out in some liturgical functions like performing baptisms or presiding at weddings and preaching. For a long time, this ministry practically died out. The Second Vatican Council, however, proposed the ministry should be re-vamped,” he said.

“Several Dioceses now have deacons, with about 100 overall in Ireland. At our Limerick Diocesan Synod in 2016, it was agreed we might explore developing the ministry of deacons in our Diocese. So, at this point I would ask for expressions of interest from men over 35 years of age, married or single," added Bishop Leahy.

While only men can be ordained Deacons at present, a commission is currently studying the question of a female deaconate. This followed the suggestion by the 2019 Synod of Bishops on the Amazon, which had recommended that women be considered for certain ministries in the church, including the permanent diaconate.

Bishop Leahy also revealed that three women and two young men from the Diocese of Limerick have joined religious orders.

Currently, there is one seminarian preparing to be ordained a priest of the Diocese. Tim Collins, from Croagh parish, is studying in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth.

“We are at a time of great change for the Church. While this change has coincided with huge decline in the vocations to priesthood and religious life over recent decades, the move to a more inclusive Church of many different ministries is the Holy Spirit at work. So, we must conclude that while change can sometimes be difficult to achieve, it is what is set out for us and what is right. It is up to all us, clergy and lay people now to make this change happen,” commented Bishop Leahy.

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