At a time of much debate around the future of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland one might be forgiven for believing that there is not much good news to be heard.
However a closer look at the life of the church in Ossory reveals a very different picture. Through the auspices of the Ossory Adult Faith Development Group the local church is communicating the centuries old message of the gospel in new and exciting ways.
In response to an innovative outreach project during Lent almost two thousand people right across the diocese signed up to receive a daily text on their mobile phones. The texts consisted of short biblical reflections accompanied by an invitation to reflect during that day. Geraldine Walsh from Killaloe near Callan, who signed up for the service, said that “the text service provided a simple and effective method of prayer during Lent even while on the move.” and “the service gave her the sense of sharing something very special with many other people right across the diocese.”
Director of Adult Faith Development Fr Dermot Ryan believes its success is as a result of its simplicity and accessibility. He noted “Already other community groups such as local GAA clubs and indeed our schools are using this technology to great benefit so it is only logical that we should do likewise”.
Owena Grimes from Bennettsbridge parish, a teacher in Loreto Secondary School Kilkenny and a member of the Diocesan Pastoral Council remarked that “Everyone, young and not so young has access to a mobile phone today and texting is now just part of our lives. People are still very open to receiving the good News of Jesus Christ which continues to offer hope especially in these difficult times”. Bishop Seamus Freeman even got in on the act when he used the diocesan text service to convey Easter Sunday Greetings to the great joy and surprise of many throughout the diocesan community.
The text service will continue to operate in the future conveying details of some upcoming events organised by the Faith Development Group and following on the success of the diocesan initiative Ballycallan Parish has now introduced its own text service. Speaking about this new innovation, parishioner and transition year student Nicholas Dunphy said that “Many young people had signed up for the parish text service and thought the idea was brilliant keeping them in touch with all the goings on in the parish during the week”.
With the new text service successfully up and running Ossory Adult Faith Development has said that it will continue to explore new ways of being part of the ‘new evangelisation’ of the church to the contemporary world. In the meantime the Group continues its mission on behalf of the Diocese and Bishop Freeman to prepare people to assume their rightful role in the Church community. Recently in a homily delivered in the Cathedral of Léon, Mexico during his apostolic visit there Pope Benedict XVI urged Church leaders to forge closer bonds of communion between all members of the Church. In particular, he called for greater attention to the formation of lay faithful who must never be considered “second class citizens”. Through resources, formation events, seminars and conferences Ossory Adult Faith Development seeks to provide the people of the diocese with opportunities to grow and mature in faith and to provide them with the necessary skills to become first class citizens of the Church as Pope Benedict indicated. Further information on the activities of the Ossory Adult Faith Development Group is available on the diocesan website: www.ossory.ie