Clogher priests acknowledge the fragility of priesthood
Clogher ACP delegates met once again on the 21st January in Clones. Seven priests were present, three sent their apologies, including Bishop Liam.
Discussing the usefulness of Clogher ACP, it was widely accepted that the gathering was most beneficial, the healthy regularity was one of its strengths, and while the numbers attending were always small, most felt better for having attended. The engaging discussions and conversation enabled the members to air topics that no other forum might provide. It was also felt that inviting a guest speaker always attracted an extra crowd. Bishop Duffy Emeritus Bishop of Clogher is to be invited as our next guest for our gathering on the 26th March.
It was felt by the gathering that the Pope Francis effect had eased the pressure on the ACP, many of the issues that have been channelled through the association in recent years no longer seem that urgent, where is the energy for the ACP at national level now? The flagship for the ACP was always Vatican II, and perhaps the spirit of Vatican II was never really developed by the ACP. Maybe that could now become our flag ship, to catechize, to educate on what we really do know about that great council we call Vatican II.
There was a great need expressed about getting nourishment for the soul, a lot of articles appearing in the Furrow and indeed the ACP website, they are not nourishing our souls, there is a tiredness about their content, and are simply not addressing ‘my struggles, my agenda, my ministry, our struggles, our agenda, our ministry’. There was an appeal to, ‘give us something for our soul’.
Priesthood Today, the recent collection of essays edited by Eamonn Conway, was suggested as something that might bring us nourishment and might form the basis for reflection for the ACP at Diocesan and national level. While Pope Francis is giving us all that great lift, the old mind-sets still need to be addressed, we still need to be disturbed.
Conscious of a number of brother priests off because of ill-health, the fragility of priesthood was acknowledged, and conscious of how future demands are going to stretch us more and more, and the anxiety around all this, an excessive sense of duty can ultimately diminish us, and so we need to develop a healthy sense of duty, and self-care is vital in all of this.
We also need to admit and acknowledge that the model we are using for any future planning is questionable, and while we now live through that transition of model change, we must keep the vision clear. At the moment clerical numbers dictate any future planning, this is our default position at the moment, but the people of God need to be part of any future planning, and that is an urgent task for we are not as yet genuinely involving and preparing the people for times ahead. With regard to the balance between a clerical mindset and a co-responsibility mindset, we are not at the tipping point. In fact some would suggest we are gone beyond the tipping point, where is the plan?
The term ‘Team’ is the way forward, clericalism doesn’t involve ‘team’, we must change that mind-set now, now is the time.
“Our next gathering of Clogher ACP will be held on Wednesday 26th March 2014 in Clones, it would be good to see you all there.”