Plymouth Diocese calls parishes to be “outward looking” as it reflects on the future renewal of parish life and structures

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Bishop Mark O’Toole and his Bishop’s Council – a group of priests who assist him in the Governance of the Diocese of Plymouth – have issued a reflection document titled, “A Precious Place of God’s Grace”, inviting the Catholics of the Diocese to be “disciple-making-disciples”, and to be focused on mission as they face the challenges of living the faith today.

The document is the fruit of considerable reflection and consultation, particularly with the Deans and the Trustees (both clergy and lay) of the Diocese.

Discernment and development

The document is divided into two parts. The first, and most important, sets out some fundamental theological and pastoral considerations based on the teaching of Pope Francis and his predecessors, a number of departments of the Roman Curia, and of Bishop O’Toole.

The second part sets out a number of key factors in the Diocese of Plymouth which are to be considered in making decisions concerning the renewal of parish structures, followed by some principles and priorities which guide those who have responsibility for diocesan governance.

The issuing of the document marks the beginning of a journey of discernment and development, which will involve the wider and active collaboration of the clergy, those living a consecrated life and the lay faithful.  This process will then feed into a revision of the document, which will, in turn, lead to the formulation of some more practical proposals regarding pastoral provision for each Deanery of the Diocese.

A Culture of Encounter

It is hoped that this document will be a positive catalyst which encourages real communication and a sharing of wisdom amongst the faithful and communities of the Diocese of Plymouth.  

It calls for a growth in a culture of encounter and the search for true wisdom in the wider context of our information-laden society. A preliminary consultation having already taken place with the Deans and the Diocesan Trustees, a program of further consultation and on-going formation is planned for the clergy of the Diocese and for the clergy and lay faithful together.

A timeline to enable this wider dialogue and consultation is included, stressing that A Precious Place of God’s Grace is offered by the Bishop and his Council as a service to the clergy and laypeople at local level, so that they can be fully involved in the journey of missionary conversion in which the whole Church is engaged.

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You can read the reflection document here.