Listening to those ‘Estranged and Disaffected’ from the Irish Catholic Church

I’ve blogged previously about the ‘listening process’ in the diocese of Down and Connor. Launched with a commissioning service in February, for the last two months there have been lay-facilitated discussions at Catholic parishes throughout the diocese. I attended one at Clonard Monastery in West Belfast.

This part of the process comes to a close tonight with one last discussion, ‘for those estranged and disaffected,’ at Belfast’s Wellington Park Hotel at 7 p.m.

‘Living Church: Down and Connor 2013’ also now has a Facebook page, where there has been some discussion around the two main questions that are posed at the sessions:

  • What would our parishes and diocese look like if the Catholic faith was being fully lived?
  • What do we need to do to make it a reality?

People can also submit responses to these questions to the diocese via email.

The results of the Listening Process will be disseminated at a Diocesan Congress at Pentecost 2013, where a ‘roadmap for the future’ and ‘pastoral priorities’ will be set out – hence the ‘Living Church: Down and Connor 2013’ moniker on Facebook and in a special section of the diocese’s website.

The Facebook page is worth a visit, even if only for the entries on the ‘info’ page. These drew a wry smile from me:

  • Employer: God
  • Univeristy: University of Life
  • Gender: Female
  • Activities and Interests: Discerning and Repenting

I have a prior commitment this evening so am unlikely to be able to attend tonight’s session, but I am curious about what will be said and how many will turn up to say it.

Gladys is a Research Fellow in the Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s University Belfast. She also blogs on religion and politics at