Well last week’s rant certainly provoked a few questions. I need to say at the outset though that I am not able to answer all the questions because some of them can only be worked out as we go. What I mean by that is, it’s trying to get a balance between talking in a void and offering nothing of substance by way of ideas for developing the parish, and on the other hand avoiding the extreme of presenting something so minutely sewn up as to leave no room for development of same through new ideas. Hopefully this will help:

Is Roncalli new?
Yes, I have been gradually developing this over the past few years. It has grown out of my experience in ministry as a priest. It is influenced by my own experience of brokenness and indeed that of others. Again and again I see we have the potential to hinder and indeed hurt each other. This is particularly true when we lack self awareness, when we have done no work on our inner world and we have not opened ourselves up to the forgiveness of God, each other and sometimes most challenging of all, forgiveness of ourselves. Right beside this I have become acutely aware of our amazing capacity through God’s grace to be powerful instruments of healing and redemption. In this sense Roncalli is about healing. It is about us as sisters and brothers helping each other on the pilgrim path. Roncalli will be at the heart of the parish, working for the parish. However in addition to what it does it is my hope that Roncalli will be significant for what it is, what it witnesses to. Namely a community of solidarity in joy and faith working to spread the Gospel.

What is the Roncalli vision?
Roncalli is not a new church. Roncalli is not an altemative church. It is not a breakaway group. Roncalli is perhaps a new shoot. Maybe a small light. It is about new beginnings. It acknowledges past hurts in the Church. It acknowledges the many who feel alienated from or let down by the Church. Roncalli whilst respectful of tradition realises the importance of finding new ways of evangelisation. How might we make Jesus known afresh to the many who do not know him or have, sometimes because of how we were Church, have turned away from him?

Is Roncalli a physical place?
Yes it is hoped that it will be located in the former Holy Faith Convent, Main Street, Celbridge. A core group of between 5/7 who will actually live together for a minimum of nine months and a maximum of three years. Another group who will form a very important part of the community but
who will live in their own home but will join the core community for key pans of the week. This second group are known as the satellite members. The third group are the Roncalli Associates. The Associates are people who support, companion, have a heart for Roncalli. Essentially they have a heart for the reform and renewal of the Church. They visit. They pray for, and with, the core and satellite members. It is hoped some of the Associates will help raise funding/ sponsorship for Roncalli.

To conclude, I believe this has great potential. It is different, it is new and like anything new it can cause unease if not actual fear. That said, is it not obvious that we must do something dynamic and fresh as Church. The old models are crumbling, the old ways of doing things are often not fit for purpose. Yet amidst all this, and most especially in the face of darkness, fear and violence the ultimate answer is Jesus, the Light no darkness can extinguish, the one from whom all healing comes.

Where better to try a new exciting initiative in the Irish Church than a vibrant parish dedicated to our great Irish patrons, Brigid and Patrick, here in Celbridge and Straffan?

Fraternally, Joe McD


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