Augustinian Faith Formation Project
Bringing Faith To Life
|A general meeting of Irish Augustinians took place during the Summer of 2011 in Ballvaloo Retreat Centre, Co. Wexford. The sixty one members of the Province who attended were representative of the various locations and ministries of the Order in Ireland. Coming together in an atmosphere of prayer and faith, our Provincial leader Gerry Horan from Limerick left us in no doubt about the seriousness of the situation facing us with the reduction in our numbers and an ageing profile. In eight years from now the average age of the entire membership of the Province will be 76. We have already reached that age in our present community here in Limerick! Out of a growing acceptance of that reality and the sense of urgency which it engendered, plans began to emerge from our discussions. One of these was a faith formation project under the title of Bringing Faith To Life. Gathering 3 >>>|
We are a pilgrim people, a forgiving people, a people called to praise. The experience of gathering in life, in forgiveness and praise.
With this in mind, we extend an invitation to all Augustinians and to the laity (including those not directly connected to us) to partake in the Augustinian Faith Formation Project.
The general theme of Bringing Faith to Life (www.faith2life.ie) suggests the need for a renewal of faith which is certainly true in the Irish church at present. There is also the assumption that faith has still something valuable to contribute to the situation where we now find ourselves, spiritually and economically. Augustinians are not alone in their crisis of faith, identity and mission in a radically different world. It has been a traumatic time for the Irish Church.
In his keynote speech to the gathering in Wexford Fr. Gerry Horan spoke about a sense of vision and the need for a practical mission plan into the future. He mentioned our co-workers and an “appropriate relationship with the laity” as part of that vision. On the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord today we reflect on our roots in faith and our shared responsibility, Augustinians and laity, for spiritual renewal, reconciliation and conversion in the Irish church. There is a yearning to leave behind a discredited clerical understanding of church and to move towards a community and communion of all God’s people with the lived reality of that experience, the vision of Jesus and Augustine. That is the context and background to the inclusive faith formation project which is now getting under way in the Irish Augustinian Province.
A Wider Canvass
The focus in Ireland this year will be on preparation for the International Eucharistic Congress which takes place in Dublin next June. The stated aims of the Congress are to:
- Promote an awareness of the central place of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Catholic Church
- To help improve the understanding and celebration of the Liturgy
- Draw attention to the social dimension of the Eucharist
While using the Congress and its preparation programme as a framework for the Augustinian Faith Formation Project, it is an opportunity to explore deeper and wider questions for us in an extended programme and planning process for our communities and our co-workers. It will provide the spiritual backdrop for some difficult and challenging decisions which need to be made in the near future. The theme of the Eucharistic Congress - communion with Christ and one another echoes the spirit and spirituality of St. Augustine and the Augustinian tradition, especially the rich understanding of “communion “. While we appreciate full churches for Christmas Masses we cannot avoid urgent questions about diminishing numbers at other times, the quality of our liturgies and their engagement with the issues of the day. The agenda for our faith formation project is wider than Augustinian survival in Ireland even though it is part of it! For more details visit www.faith2life.ie