Vision – the art of seeing the impossible

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Diocesan Synod – Dioceses of Meath and Kildare

“Vision is the art of seeing the impossible” said Bishop Pat Storey. She was quoting the words of Jonathan Swift, as she addressed the Meath and Kildare diocesan synod. It took place in Wilsons’ Hospital School, near Multyfarnham, on Saturday 7th October. She encouraged synod members to be “a dioceses that sees the impossible”.

In her address Bishop Pat Storey she also talked of the need to step back from the immediate and look more closely at where we wanted to go as a diocese. She reminded members of the diocesan vision statement – Together in God’s love transforming lives. This is currently being worked out with three priorities: discipleship, taking initiatives to meet human need, as well as encouraging and equipping ministry.

Bishop Storey talked of the constant challenge to see this vision and these priorities worked out. As a step towards working out this vision she reflected on a new review initiative that will begin in the dioceses at the start of 2018. This will be undertaken in partnership with Church Army. She emphasised that it was not “an exercise in the “maudalin”or about closing churches, but about “moving forward and finding God’s will for the dioceses”. Rev Steve Hollinghurst, from Church Army, has been invited to complete the review, which will include consultations with every parish, all clergy and a wide range of other members of the dioceses, as well as those outside the church.

Bishop Storey and various other speakers talked of the success of the ‘Good for the Sole’ project. This project, in partnership with Bishops’ Appeal and The Mission to End Leprosy, has raised funds to buy sandals to protect the feet of leprosy sufferers. It also moved on to raising money to fund many foot surgeries in Kairigiri hospital in India.  Appreciation was expressed for all the fund raising initiatives, that raised over €66,000, across the dioceses over the previous two years. This included the Food for the Sole cookbook produced by Rhonda Willoughby. A group from the dioceses also visited Kairigiri shortly after Easter in 2017. The project will close with a special celebration service in All Saints Church in Mullingar on Sunday 5th November, at 6pm.

As well as normal business the synod was addressed by Mr David Ritchie, the Chief Officer of the RCB. He helped synod representatives to understand the structure and work of the RCB, highlighting the new Parish Resources page on the Church of Ireland website. He also talked of the strategy of the RCB, expressed in the staff Mission Statement: that they exist: “to inform; to support and to manage resources for the advancement of the mission and ministry of the Church of Ireland”.

The synod was also addressed by Rev Steve Hollinghurst. He has extensive research experience and expertise in the issue of how the Church can relate to contemporary society. As well as talking about the review, from January to October 2018, he spoke of the work of Church Army – to enable the church to engage with the culture around it, mobilising ordinary people for ministry. He described the shape and purpose of the review – to discover how we can engage more effectively with our culture.

During the synod there were many opportunities to hear about work taking place amongst many age groups and in all sorts of contexts across the dioceses. It was also an opportunity to thank many people for the contribution they make at parish and diocesan level. As well as hearing reports of diocesan boards, such as the Board of Education, members of synod were appreciative of the various organisations that had stands and representatives present. They also appreciated the hospitality and lunch provided by Wilsons’ Hospital School, as well as opportunity to share in Holy Communion in the school chapel.