Preparing for the Synod
A first step in the coming months will be to set up a steering group called The Preparatory Commission. The task for the Preparatory Commission is to identify and recruit delegates who will attend the Synod event in 2016. They will be drawn from, and in turn, represent the various strands of life in our diocese.
To be truly representative, the approximately 400 delegates will come from parishes, schools (primary and secondary), third level colleges, Health Care communities, members of the Travelling Community and other minority and migrant communities, youth ministry groups and ecclesial communities such as Muintearas Íosa, Charismatic Renewal and others, the Irish, Polish and other language speaking communities, representatives of the city of Limerick, regeneration areas, the worlds of business, the arts, sport and other areas of culture.
Once we have recruited the delegates they will need to receive some training and formation to enable them to undertake their task of listening and discerning. Throughout the process they will engage in regular in-service. What a wonderful resource these delegates will be for their own communities and the life of the Diocese!
The delegates will engage in a process of listening and discerning together with those they represent to determine what exactly our needs, concerns and possibilities are at this time. Once the material which this listening and discernment has surfaced is gathered together, the Preparatory Commission will need to prioritise and group these into themes that will form the basis for the discussions at the Synod in 2016. Indeed, not alone will they need to group the material into themes but also hopefully provide background study material on each theme that will inform and enrich the discussion at the Synod proper.
Most importantly, all of this work takes place under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and so prayer will be an integral aspect of all that we do.
It is vital also that we deepen our knowledge of the faith during this year and a half ahead in order to inform our deliberations and reflections. For that reason, the Diocese will engage in a programme of catechetical updating for all of us.
The gathering in Spring 2016 will bring the delegates together to draw conclusions. As a result of the Synod I am hopeful and confident that we will have worked out a Pastoral Plan that will take us forward into the challenging years ahead. I also hope that we will have an opportunity to clarify and articulate the policies and guidelines that guide our work.
I have appointed Fr. Éamonn Fitzgibbon, Episcopal Vicar, as Director of the Synod. It will be his task to co-ordinate the many strands of preparation for the Synod as well as the Synod event itself.