Bishop urges parishes to accept new lay ministers

THE BISHOP of Clogher has urged local parishioners to accept the incoming changes to life in the diocese, with a significant shift towards lay ministry on its way in the new year.
As reported by the Herald back in September, Bishop Larry Duffy had previously announced over 40 ‘lay leaders’ were to be introduced to parishes across the Clogher Diocese as a result of a shortage of local priests. These minister will undertake a number of duties, including presiding over funerals.
Now, in a letter delivered at Masses across the diocese just before Christmas, Bishop Duffy said these lay ministers were currently in training and would be taking up their positions in the coming months.
Thanking all those who already served the church through various ministries – such as on school boards and parish committees – Bishop Duffy said the work of local parishioners was already “a great example of a synodal church in action.”
He noted over the past 60 years, the diocese had seen “a great growth in lay participation in the ministerial life of the church,” with lay readers, known as Ministers of the Word, introduced in the 1960s, and Ministers of the Eucharists introduced in the 1980s, for example.
“Now we have a new ministry to add to all these – funeral ministry,” he continued.
“Over the past few months, over 40 people from 12 parishes across the diocese have taken part in a formation course to enable them accompany people and families at the time of bereavement. They will be able to lead the liturgy of reception of the body at the church and the Rite of Committal at the graveside.
“Over the coming months they will continue their training and formation and be commissioned in their respective parishes to assist at funerals as outlined above.
“Other parishes have indicated a willingness to nominate people for a similar course in the Spring of next year. We are very grateful to all those who have come forward for the formation and training and to the priests of those parishes for their involvement.”
Bishop Duffy asked parishioners to “welcome the new lay funeral ministers and to prayerfully support them in their service.”
“These ministers will be commissioned publicly to act in the name of the church within the parish community,” he said.
“Therefore, this is not a lessening of service to families and loved ones at the time of a death but, rather, a strengthening of the local parish commitment to accompany people at such a difficult and sensitive time.”

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