DPC Listening Exercise



DPC Listening Exercise

[Note: The Listening Process organised by the Diocesan Pastoral Council took place at nine venues throughout the Archdiocese of Tuam during March and April 2011.  The Summary Report on the Listening Process in the Archdiocese of Tuam was published in hard copy and launched in Westport on October 17th for distribution in the parishes.  Not all of the findings of the listening meetings could be included in the Summary Report due to the limited space available in the printed document.  What follows here is a more comprehensive summary of the views which emerged at the meetings.  Similar themes emerged at the nine venues and rather than provide the views expressed at each meeting, the views are gathered together here under the various themes which emerged during the process.]

For a full pdf version of the Report click on the link below:

DPC Listening Exercise – Published booklet – Pdf version


The themes that emerged from the Let’s Listen process are as follows:


1.     With recession people need to experience a caring and welcoming parish community

  1. If we believe we are the church; the people of God, we need to reach out. There is a lot of need out there to show the Light of Christ and to show solidarity and goodwill to all
  2. The  local parish community needs to take care of young families, non-nationals, a better response to wounded people, asylum seekers,  those on the margins
  3. What can we do to more effectively draw in our community to liturgical gatherings in our parish?
  4. People feel like outsiders in the Church. Our response is to have the courage to continue our involvement in the local church and support others in the church community.
  5. A ‘fáilte group’ in each parish to welcome newcomers and encourage them to become involved in the community
  6. More community involvement with church – tea/coffee after Mass on Sunday
  7. Encourage pilgrimages for young and old – gatherings at local shrines/national
  8. Mission (partnerships) – awareness / linking / co-operation with the (developing world) Church
  9. Have a pastoral council with groups – bereavement, church liturgy, baptism – so they add to the parish
  10. Catholic action group – Italian model – lay involvement as Pope requested and Church return to teaching body
  11. National Grandparents’ Association is a resource that should be put to greater use by the Church
  12. Parish ‘forums’ (as distinct from Pastoral Councils) to allow laity to put proposals to priests aimed at improving the quality of Christian Community Living
  13. Organise meetings to take place after Mass – might include more people
  14. Encourage people by word of mouth to come along to gathering in relation to the parish  rather than leaving it to an item in the newsletter
  15. Be more proactive within clusters
  16. Cooperative links between DPC and parish councils need to be strengthened. The Diocesan Pastoral Council should be to the fore in promoting a ‘working together’ policy in parishes.  It should give ideas to pastoral councils on how to be more effective in their work


1.     As the people of God we all need to participate in the change that must take place – not just priests – everyone involved.  we are the church, the people of God, we are responsible

  1. Fear and nervousness about future of the Church as we know it – this generation could be the last generation of Catholics
  2. Church as community – involving everyone as part of change
  3. The need to look forward to 15 or 20 years time – What kind of local church community will our children have in 35yrs?
  4. Concern about a hierarchical model of Church and need for a listening Church
  5. Freedom to say what we want – freedom of speech
  6. The Irish Church needs a clear plan of action – are we prepared for what’s coming down the tracks regarding the shortage of priests?
  7. Audit all Parishes to explore how they are working and if following Diocesan Guidelines
  8. We need a stronger, more principled and more pastoral Church relevant to modern living
  9. People have difficulties with the Church as an institution but no difficulty with the value of the Christian message
  10. Jesus’ vision is being trampled on – live the life that Jesus calls us to – live our faith dynamically and stand up to those who would wish to denigrate it
  11. Spiritual Growth is required and a renewed focus and energy required
  12. Church should be a teaching institution, not a law enforcement agency
  13. We need to bury the past by improving the future. We are a Catholic country – our heritage
  14. Loving God enough to make that time alone with him in prayer –
  15. People need to be inspired to pray
  16. Surge of hope and confidence for the future
  17. Go back to messages of Jesus –live by them – lack of forgiveness
  18. Church as an institution needs to greet, be humble and to listen
  19. One of the Church’s challenges – to help people find God in themselves


1.     Emphasise the real Christian message – compassion, hope, loving one another, we all belong – a welcoming Church

  1. Go back to Jesus and ask what Jesus would do in leading people in 2011
  2. The Church teaches us a very good way of living; Christ’s messengers may be found wanting
  3. The same as He did in His earthly ministry love and forgive – do unto others as you would wish them to do to you
  4. People are not leaving the practice of their faith because of scandals but because of a void in the teaching from the pulpit
  5. Formation for the congregation, to know right and wrong – morally – people are thirsting to hear it from Christ’s representative
  6. Need for social justice issues to be addressed by the Church leadership
  7. People have a real need for a spiritual dimension to their lives.  The Christian way of living is the best response to that need and never needed more in an increasingly secular world
  8. Catholic Religion is ‘wishy-washy’, with many people having an ‘a la carte’ approach to it


1.     Steeped in a tradition of faith – our inheritance – deeply ingrained in all of us. Faith of past generations was truly edifying, not as influential in the present generation of believers. There’s a huge demand for Spirituality.

  1. People’s faith is sustained by a belief in ‘the good news’ as given to us by Jesus – a belief in eternal life
  2. People searching for true meaning in life
  3. Children are entitled to a good faith education – more than pre-sacramental programmes
  4. Recession in a strange way is helping the Church – there are signs of people falling back on faith and religion as recession impacts on their lives
  5. Explore other faiths – coming back to Catholicism
  6. Spiritual growth of parishioners needs more nurturing from the local church
  7. Prayer lacking at the core of the Church – the power of the Holy Spirit seemingly absent – there is not a deeper prayer life in ourselves and our communities
  8. Nobody is teaching ‘the faith’-  not being passed on with sufficient enthusiasm
  9. Need to re-imagine ourselves – the faith won’t change
  10. People trying to make real connections between real life and the Church
  11. Teachings – truth – message doesn’t seem to be getting through – diluted
  12. Build a local faith community where everyone can have an authentic experience of God
  13. Show faith by involvement in the  parish
  14. The ‘real and genuine’ faith formation of people should be undertaken by priests and Pastoral Councils
  15. Encourage family prayer and prayer for all ages
  16. Parents falling away – ask them why?
  17. Teach the real experience of Jesus
  18. Day retreats for various groups in a pleasant environment – an annual one-day retreat in Knock Basilica.
  19. Knock Shrine to be a centre for spiritual excellence, e.g. through music and communal singing in the Basilica and not a place for a ‘spiritual packed lunch’, People don’t go there for an ‘away match” – effective ‘Proclamation’ of the Word of God
  20. How can we truly teach, impart, a non-watered-down truth to all our brothers and sisters – young and old
  21. Forget about pastoral meetings until the truth is taught to children
  22. The Church in Ireland is like a bush that is too pruned. It is spring now and there is real growth – we should have faith and it will come back better than ever.
  23. Pastoral Centres should be where the faith is nurtured



1.     The Institutional Church needs to become more relevant to Christian Communities throughout the diocese – the importance of prayer and meditation to Christian living.

  1. Importance of the celebration of the Eucharist – good liturgy is uplifting
  2. There should be uniformity in churches throughout the diocese on when congregations stand, sit or kneel at Mass
  3. Irreverence in church
  4. Need for a public confession – general absolution four times a year
  5. Have stations in the community
  6. Homilies should relate to the gospel of the day and be delivered in simple and easy language
  7. Use of benediction and novenas
  8. Strong liturgies – good readers, music, servers
  9. Pope has said that some Latin and Gregorian chant incorporated into present day liturgies
  10. Tapping into spirituality of older people
  11. Holy Hour once a month for all parishes across Ireland on a designated date and
  12. Silence in church to allow people to pray
  13. Forgiveness should have a more prominent place in our lives
  14. Need for pastoral outreach workers
  15. Prayer services, rosary adoration in a group. Eucharistic Adoration
  16. Make confessions more inviting
  17. Use of technology for Masses re: fewer priests


1.     The challenge for the Church is to acknowledge the shadows that exist, be more humble, rid itself of excessive pomp and ceremony and work with people in bringing about a renewal of the Church as envisaged by its founder Jesus Christ

  1. The abuse of children is an atrocity that should not have happened – keeping it secret was a crime – and still is
  2. The poor handling of all the scandals in the Church. Vatican needs to acknowledge and apologise for its part in how abuse cases were dealt with. While busy “covering up” children and vulnerable others continued to be abused. Reputation of the Church was more important than the wellbeing of any single child, or adult.
  3. Opposition to the attempt by Rome to blame Irish Church for Rome’s lack of response on abuse issue The Pope’s letter was all about ‘the wounds suffered’ by the Church should be about admission of what happened
  4. Apologies for clerical sex abuse should come from the perpetrators, not from Bishops
  5. The question is “What would Jesus do?” Jesus would stand up for the downtrodden – He had no difficulty in standing up against hypocrisy wherever He met it. Hope that the Apostolic Visitors are bringing back a clear message to Rome that Rome must take responsibility for its role in failing to protect children too. No real admission of the extent of clerical child sex abuse and, therefore, no real apologies given.
  6. Clerical abuse affects how a child relates to other people, so all relationships in the life of a child who has been abused are affected, many cannot enter their church, or any church
  7. Compassion and even the language of the letter was not meaningful to most people
  8. Good priests, who are very much in the majority, are all too often tarred with the same brush as abusers
  9. Concern for priests who were wrongly accused
  10. How do we care for the abused and care of our priests who have been accused?
  11. Church here in Ireland is becoming much more tuned in to the need to protect children and vulnerable others. The Irish Church can well be an example for many other countries
  12. Safeguarding of children policies need to be highlighted
  13. What are we going to do to have a hope filled future?  We need to repair the grievous wound that has been inflicted
  14. When will Tuam Diocese talk to us about it? We need more sessions like this one to talk about the abuse to children and to know how it happened and actually what happened. It’s unbelievable – and a betrayal to us.
  15. Bishops need to bring us together and talk about abuse and what happened in our Church
  16. Been betrayed by Church in general
  17. I think we should move on from the past as regards paedophilia etc and just pray that this will never happen again


1.     We need much better communications – better communication needed in parishes between priests and people and between Church and people

  1. People feel the priests are listening and priests feel the bishops are not listening
  2. Church has built a system of non-listening and continues to be hierarchical
  3. Good ideas from the grass roots are not listened to or considered
  4. Reluctance of Rome to listen to grass roots
  5. Interested in hearing other visions of the future of our Church
  6. We don’t know what’s going on even re Clusters/meetings
  7. PRO for the Diocese and for each deanery
  8. Need for a greater awareness of the needs of the Gaeltacht in our Diocese
  9. To communicate the Gospel message, we need new and creative liturgies that engage people and that catch their imagination. The use of heritage, culture and sense of place as a framework through which to communicate the Gospel message has been shown to work particularly with young people.
  10. Spreading news of local church events by word of mouth and use of an information table in church
  11. Greater IT usage should be encouraged  in church
  12. Is there any forum to hear the voices of those who no longer belong to the Church?
  13. More discussions like this on issues


1.     Do Catholics know their faith? Are we following God, pope or popular opinion?

  1. The Church should be a teaching Church. There is a huge faith deficit in the population – we are spiritual beings – young and old are crying out for spiritual development and spiritual growth
  2. Need for real and genuine formation which is presently  very fragmented with lack of clear moral teaching
  3. Adult faith formation – Training in the scriptures and in Catechists – Bible studies – scripture preparations for liturgy in parishes
  4. Learn the basic tenets of our religion to pass on to our families. Our families passed it on to us – have we failed the next generation?
  5. Conversion/evangelisation through catechesis – conversion of people Training must not just be the acquisition of knowledge – enthuse trainees and make them want to be involved in the life of the local church
  6. Self-esteem of people needs to be nurtured
  7. Formation of people in Pastoral Councils. Can guidelines for Pastoral Councils be amended to include 2-yearly performance audits?  New people to be added to the Council on a regular basis to ensure ‘new energy and thinking’ is brought to meetings
  8. Adoration, Our Lady of Knock Shrine, inspirational speakers e.g. John Pridmore   Personal testimony speakers for evangelisation
  9. Use of Eucharistic plays
  10. We need to look at religious education in primary and secondary school – proper religious education ‘good guidance’
  11. More use of I.T. in religious education
  12. Catholic schools to be governed by government – parish councils need to respond to this


1.     The essential goodness of people should be given greater acknowledgement by the Church

  1. Lay people are the Body of Christ with Christ as its head
  2. Lay people having more decision making powers in their parish – pastoral council   Church leadership is not listening to constructive suggestions coming from laity – “afraid of media and afraid of microphones.” The Church leadership must show greater tolerance, understanding and appreciation of the views of lay people and their views welcomed
  3. Laity doing the jobs. The need for lay people to be more involved in the management of the parish – Lay people are doing the small things but we also need to do the big things
  4. Church leadership afraid to deal with issue of greater lay involvement in parish affairs
  5. Diocese is trying to empower lay people
  6. Lack of lay people willing to get involved. How do we encourage people to become involved
  7. Lack of response to the Pope’s recent letter and – not got the laity ready
  8. Lay people need an awful lot of training. Regular renewal required for lay ministers in parish – Laity must be given proper training to provide Christian leadership and care in parishes that are likely to lose priests
  9. Lay leadership group, children’s liturgy, bereavement, baptism, confirmation, communion, Pastoral Council, liturgy group
  10. Allow the laity to be involved in such activities as funerals, attending the bedside of the sick and dying, baptism, weddings and preparation of children for sacraments
  11. More lay involvement – in Mass i.e. entrance procession, altar servers, lectors, two readers and intercessions, priest, Eucharistic ministers, offertory procession – families; groups, offertory baskets, welcoming / greeters, Info table at back of church, ushers. An Information committee
  12. At lay level how do we sit down together to talk and plan


1.     Church leaders in Ireland should have a coherent policy and speak with one voice e.g. management of national school

  1. Rome is ‘completely out of touch’ with the way the people of Ireland live their lives
  2. Church must get back to ‘winning ways’ – people at the top must lead. Need people with backbone. The Church leaders should be braver.
  3. Church speak out more publicly on moral issues – not to be afraid
  4. The Church is as hierarchical as ever, there is no change with male domination by the hierarchy
  5. Leadership needs to be taken on in different areas – huge challenge that needs time to reflect
  6. Better leadership needed within parishes and from parish councils – more leadership to preserve the faith that’s left. Greater coordination needed between church groups at parish level.
  7. Laity must be given proper training to provide Christian leadership and care in parishes that are likely to lose priests
  8. Resource Parishes, paid worker to work with Parishes


1.     Many people in the media have given considerable care and service to our children by exposing the truth of the negligence of our covering up of abuse in the Church over many years

  1. Negative image of Church through the media. The media treatment of Church matters often very biased, i.e. anti-Church. Too much priest-bashing by (some) people and in the media.  The good done is taken for granted. Media in Ireland very hostile to Catholicism and those who practice
  2. Good priests are tarred with the same brush as abusers
  3. The Church leaders fear the media but should try to embrace it and make its message known.  Leaders should seek to embrace it in order to get fair play for its position. Church should make greater use of the media to promote itself
  4. Church running away from media, not using it in a constructive way – why not have positive advertisements. Church must be braver in its promotion of Christian teaching
  5. Church needs to realise that while we must be “wise as serpents” in dealing with the media we also need to proclaim the truth that we profess we honour in our faith beliefs. In other words let’s “get over” knocking the media and work truthfully with them.
  6. Our culture is not being properly expressed in media. The Church has many positive good news stories but is slow to highlight them. Promote groups in the area
  7. Church should be to the fore in the use of Information Technology to promote Christ’s teachings e.g.  TV Masses – too few priests
  8. Conscious of religious tourism


1. People don’t realise what’s coming huge opposition to it, especially among priests, but nobody listening

2.  Message on website saying priests find it very good – treatment of priests – treatment of us tonight/ tokenism

3. Priests concern at an appalling poor translation, archaic, a pre-Vatican II document with language that ignores God the Father

4. New Missal being introduced ‘over the heads’ of priests and laity, another example of ‘hierarchical power’ that does not listen– no consultation -“being taken on board by the so called ‘institutional church’

5. Priests at a meeting in Knock spoke of their concerns – nobody was consulted – Missals commissioned a year ago and printed

6. Priests asked for discussion but fell flat – nobody listened to / heeded the responses or answers

7. If we could encourage the youth to learn the words to be able to answer in Mass to the prayers


1.     We are a sacramental church, thank God for our priests

  1. The priests are wonderful – they are listening but the institutional Church is not
  2. Priests are listening to people but is anybody really listening to them?
  3. Positive steps towards future with few priests
  4. There is a shortage of priests and an uneven distribution. Worried about the future without priests or when our local priest is sick – we are worried what will happen?
  5. If the Eucharist the summit of our faith we need to ensure that the Eucharist is available
  6. The ongoing reduction in priest numbers is a huge problem for the Church and one that is not being faced up to – no preparation for this situation
  7. Fears of church closures and the impact on Christian community living
  8. Format of parish and community life will go or be damaged when left without a priest or when priests are no longer available to serve in them
  9. Priests – “no priest – no Eucharist” – lack of Sunday Mass in rural areas
  10. Priests’ concerns – are we going to become sacramental machines as priests?
  11. Shortage of priests, priests should be an integral part of people’s lives
  12. What is happening re the introduction of the Diaconate to the Archdiocese of Tuam?
  13. What is the policy on deacons?
  14. Diaconate should not be confined to married men, but should be open to women and men, irrespective of marital status
  15. Train deacons
  16. A Parish administrator is needed where a parish has no priest or to free up priests so that they can carry out Pastoral duties and sacramental care of people
  17. Need for suitably trained pastoral workers
  18. Laity should be allowed receive remains, assist at funerals and witness marriage vows
  19. In the absence of a priest what sort of prayer service is proposed?
  20. Community response to lack of Mass – good living person to say prayers, distribute communion etc. The provision of para-liturgies in the absence of a priest
  21. Shortage of priests is not a problem – Jesus is with the Church and will look after it
  22. Utilising the services of married Priests
  23. Use of priests who have left as deacons – many ordained married men are under utilized
  24. Possibility of women priests
  25. Use resources of retired priests
  26. Priests from abroad-no consensus on whether this is a good idea?
  27. Priests allowed to get married
  28. Eucharistic and other lay ministers should be allowed to have prayer services which would include the distribution of Holy Communion when priests are not available
  29. Care of our priests in our parishes
  30. Prayer groups – praying specifically for priests
  31. More cross diocesan collaboration and greater cooperation between the parishes in the clusters
  32. “What can we do?’’ –  “Explain the real truth to everyone’’
  33. Use of technology for Masses re fewer priests


1.     We must protect the Sacraments – bring in young parents, grandparents and extended family

  1. Find out why parents who want their children to receive the Sacraments (Baptism, Holy Communion, Confirmation) have, in many instances, little enthusiasm for leading by example by going to Mass, being involved in parish activities or family prayer
  2. Parents not attending church after sacraments – Why don’t parents return after children have received sacraments?
  3. After confirmation a feeling that young people are lost to the Church
  4. Sacramental preparation a school thing versus a faith thing – just a day out? Privilege and not a burden
  5. Confirmation deferred until 14-15 years of age


1.     Women’s role in the Church leaves a lot to be desired and is not being addressed – inequality and injustice – half the people of God are not HEARD – the talents, experience intelligence of women is totally ignored – what a loss to our Church. We are desperate for priests

2.     Women are currently, and always have been, the backbone of the local church, despite the way we continue to treat them. Role of women in the Church undervalued and underused, yet lay involvement from them is much greater than from men

3.     Exclusion of women from the full Ministry of the Priesthood and consequently exclusion from the main power and decision making structures in the Church

4.      Explore the role of women in the Church

5.     Women should be invited to take their rightful place in the Church

6.     As regards married priests and women priests etc. – surely this has to come from Rome – could there be some way that we could lobby Rome


1.     Where are our young people?

  1. How can the Church reach out to the youth – huge depression, suicide, helplessness and low self worth?  Church needs to be accessible to young people
  2. Renewal of the Church through the young people. A sense of hope in young people and organisation within the parish
  3. Most senior adults don’t question their faith, but young people do. Youth attendance at Mass has reduced because young people no longer go out of fear or obligation. Those who go are there because they want to be there
  4. church attendance doesn’t necessarily reflect Christian values, e.g. young people who do not go to Mass
  5. If we give example, living out our faith, encouraging young people they will come back to the Church
  6. Urban and rural youth do not sing from the same hymn book
  7. Local gathering of youth in Castlebar – the Diocesan Youth Council could organise
  8. Every 4-6 weeks a specific ‘youth Mass’ to be driven by the youth and a strong feature of music
  9. Change format of Mass and make it more joyous and active – something similar to African culture to attract youth – especially for young people not connected with the schools
  10. Activities other than Mass – Youth 2000 at parish level
  11. Bring the Church to the young people – a welcoming back – use of general absolution
  12. We need new yardsticks to judge or assess Christian behaviour.  Youth have a great sense of altruism, fair play and justice and it would be wrong to conclude that non-attendance at Mass and church ceremonies means they are losing their Christian faith
  13. Church has lost the trust of young people
  14. Táize type gatherings for youth and Eucharistic Adoration programmes work well elsewhere (Longford) and should be considered for Diocese of Tuam
  15. A young people’s one day/one week retreat at Knock Shrine, – Getting 5000 young people into the Basilica
  16. Outreach  to Community schools – non-Catholic schools and those on the margins – JP II awards – and draw them back
  17. Suicide – the need to make God real for young people – not in the clouds
  18. Plan for active participation of young people in parish life
  19. Promote the enriching experience of being involved in a number of youth groups
  20. Affirm young people – their value to society – support them
  21. They come to the big moments and can connect with cultural events
  22. There are growing indications that young people are willing to get involved with the Church if the right challenges are put to them
  23. Young people want to know the truth – are sick and tired of being told what the world thinks of them – they want to hear. They want to know something better than hedonistic and no purpose nonsense that they are being offered by our culture today
  24. Lots of positivity in church community, especially among young people, but more youth events needed
  25. Who are we as church – to be more positive with youth
  26. Alienation of young people from the Church
  27. How to encourage the youth to be more involved in the spiritual life
  28. Use music ‘as a tool’ to generate more youth involvement in church life

There was a proposal to provide a specific questionnaire order to get the views of parishioners in all parishes. This would enable those who could not come to listening meetings to express their views


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