Faith Matters

Invitation for 'parish people' to pause amid the peace of Lough Derg

Lough Derg is hosting a parish ministry day on May 18

THOSE of us engaged in parish ministry might find the following words interesting, writes Jim Deeds.

In the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity emanating from the Second Vatican Council we read the following: "The lay faithful should accustom themselves to working in the parish in close union with their priests... As far as possible the lay faithful ought to collaborate in every apostolic and missionary undertaking sponsored by their own ecclesial family."

Well, that was quite the challenge. And yet, before and even more so since, we have seen people rise to that challenge in our parishes and communities.

There have always been faithful and committed people who give of their time, energy and prayer life to serve the community; be it as a flower arranger or minister of welcome; as a minister of God's word or as a minister to those grieving a loved one lost.

These 'apostolic undertakings', as the Vatican Council named them, are the life blood of our parish communities. Those who give of their time do so joyfully.

It is good, therefore, to give something back to those engaged in parish ministries.

In any walk of life, but particularly the spiritual life, it is important to take time out every now and then to revive the spirit and to nourish the calling we have.

There can be no better place to facilitate such a time away and such a nourishment than the peaceful island of Lough Derg, the Sanctuary of St Patrick in Co Donegal. It has been a place of retreat for countless pilgrims over the centuries.

While we often associate Lough Derg with their three-day pilgrimage programme, the team there also offer a range of one-day retreats - replete with food and the gift of keeping our shoes and socks on.

On Saturday May 18 Lough Derg is inviting those engaged in parish ministry to gather for a day of reflection.

I will have the honour of leading the retreat, with input from Fr La Flynn, the Prior of Lough Derg, along with his team and Deacon Martin Donnelly.

Those who attend will have time for prayer, relaxation and conversation with others engaged in parish life from across the country.

There will also be good food to nourish the body and prayer to nourish the soul.

As time goes on, we find that there may be fewer people involved in parish ministry and therefore the demands can be considerable.

Why not consider coming to Lough Derg on May 18 to take some time out and leave feeling refreshed and ready to rise to the challenge once more.

Jim Deeds works in pastoral ministry in the Diocese of Down and Connor and is a poet and author.

Jim Deeds

His latest book, Deeper Into The Mess: Praying Through Tough Times, written with Brendan McManus SJ, has just been published.

The Parish Ministry Day is a new event on Lough Derg, and aims to offer spiritual refreshment for those who give service to others in their parishes, including readers, safeguarding personnel, parish pastoral teams, administration and finance teams, baptism and liturgy teams and others.

For more information telephone 00353 (0) 71 9861518, email or visit Admission is £22 and booking is essential.

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