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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Irish parishes hear about New Zealand model for Catholic Church renewal

A New Zealand cardinal told a conference on the future of parishes in Ireland that his diocese benefited from the appointment of church workers known as lay pastoral leaders who exercise many functions that normally would be the responsibility of a parish priest.

Cardinal John Dew of Wellington, New Zealand, later told Catholic News Service that the lay pastoral leaders, separate from lay ecclesial ministers, “are leaders with the priests and we are giving them leadership responsibility rather than just being a worker who is treated as a worker.”

He acknowledged that the priest shortage in his diocese was “severe,” but said the introduction of lay pastoral leaders was more about providing an opportunity for laypeople to work together with priests rather than a solution to the clergy shortfall.

“I believe it works no matter how many priests you have because people are willing to work together collaboratively and co-responsibly,” Cardinal Dew said. “They understand the Church doesn’t belong to the priest – it belongs to everyone.”

The two-day conference, titled ‘The Future of the Irish Parish: Lessons from Abroad’, was organised by the Irish Institute for Pastoral Studies at Mary Immaculate College’s campus in Thurles. The conference followed by days the visit of Pope Francis, who addressed the triennial World Meeting of Families in Dublin.

Picture: People pray during Mass. ( Greg Bowker/ABACA USA/PA).