OVER a thousand people are involved in pastoral councils and thousands more are involved in other parish activities and ministries across the Catholic Diocese of Killaloe. That’s the positive message sounded by Fr Tom Hogan, Ennis parish administrator, at the launch of an event that will attract thousands of people to the town in September.
The diocese is making a special contribution to The Gathering by way of a meeting of people from 58 parishes in Ennis. The Faith Gathering, on the weekend of September 13 to 15, will celebrate and reflect on faith, what it means in our lives and how it can be nurtured and supported into the future.
Bishop Kieran O’Reilly and members of the organising committee attended the Faith Gathering launch at Ennis Cathedral this week.
A special youth congress will run side by side with the main event on Saturday and a programme specially adapted to the interests of young people is in the process of being developed. Young people will also be involved in hosting a special Taize-style prayer on Saturday evening.
The Killaloe Diocese Faith Gathering has extended an invitation to as many as possible from all its parishes to travel to Ennis for the event. Ennis, as the cathedral town of the diocese, will host this celebration. The Friday night and Sunday events will take place in Ennis Cathedral, while the main part of the programme on Saturday will be held in St Flannan’s College.
Fr Tom Hogan, co-ordinator of the group organising the Faith Gathering said, “Care is being taken to ensure that there is something over the two days that is likely to appeal to everyone. There will be a whole range of talks and workshops for those who want to explore spirituality and what it means to be a person of faith.”
Fr Tom went on to pay tribute to those who sustain parish communities and, day-in day-out, give time and commitment to ‘making a difference’. “We’d like to think of this gathering as a way of recognising and saying thanks for the contribution that so many people are making in parishes across our diocese.
Over the course of the weekend, a number of keynote speakers will be asked to address the question of what faith means in the Ireland of today. On Friday night, Dr Ruth Patterson will launch The Gathering at a special event in the cathedral. Other keynote speakers on Saturday will be Dermot Ryan from Ossory Diocese and Irish Times columnist Breda O’Brien.
On Saturday, a whole series of workshops will be available in St Flannan’s College. There will be a big focus on creativity, with workshops on topics such as Spirituality Though the Medium of Film, Spirituality through Movement, Spirituality Through Art and Creativity.
The full list of workshops is still in preparation.
Youth Congress Committee member, Mary Hanley said, “We have managed to get a really good mix of speakers and workshop leaders and are aiming to create as broad and as interesting a programme as possible. It should be a really great experience and there is lots of interest in it.’
Information about the Faith Gathering will be available shortly online at www.killaloediocese.ie. A brochure is in the process of preparation and will be available in local parishes and online. All talks and workshops over the weekend will be free of charge.
Artist Angela Mellett has designed a special logo for the Killaloe Diocese Faith Gathering, depicting a boat launching out into deep water. Brendan O’Brien, a teacher at St Anne’s Community College in Killaloe explained the symbolism of the logo. “We live in very uncertain times when the future of Church and faith in Ireland is not at all clear. We’re in choppy seas. It’s precisely at times like this that we are called to ‘launch out into deep waters’ confident that we will be led into new and creative ways of living our faith in today’s world.”