Theme: Are we the Church that Christ Intended?
Coming away from last year’s conference and reflecting on the common priesthood of the Christian community, the question that remained with one was “What Christian community?” Is there going to be a Eucharistic community in Ireland in the years ahead or is it to die out as it has in other countries, with the passing on of the older generation?
There is a crisis and we are all aware of it. Young people, young adults and older people, baptised, brought up in Christian homes, educated in Christian schools, are no longer being initiated or socialised into the Eucharistic community. They cannot relate to it. Yet they are searching . They are interested in the global community, in justice issues and the environment, but not from the perspective of Eucharistic sharing. They may pray, but, in a time of rapid change, hold views on relationships, material possessions, the possibility of an afterlife and on the marginalised in society, which are at variance with what the teaching Church understands to be the message of Christ. They are strongly influenced by the media, which often depict the churches as minority interest groups which are oppressive and backward looking.
The reasons for the failure of the initiation process are not easy to identify: a certain amount of distancing is necessary for growth, but what we are seeing amounts to a repudiation.
Yes, something is missing. It seems that it is necessary to look at the Christian community itself. Can we say that we the Christian community in Ireland are offering them a communion of the kind that they would want to make theirs? Are we the Church that Christ intended?
The Conference will discuss, under a number of aspects, the critical state of Christian community in Ireland today –
- How has history shaped our present day perceptions of being Church?
- What vision of Christian community does Scripture give us?
- How has renewal come about at various times in our past?
- What are its dynamics?
The Spirit is always at work in the world, and there are many signs of this in our midst. These beginnings of renewal will be reviewed and the directions to be taken for the years ahead will be considered.