Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am continually inspired by the spirit of faith and care that animates our Catholic community, even as we face the reality of so few vocations to the priesthood. This is a time of listening, discernment and renewed pastoral action for all of us in the Church, clergy and lay people. The vitality of our Church increasingly relies on our lay people to step into leadership and service roles with courage and love.

In the past year, we can point to green shots emerging through efforts associated with our Building Hope initiative. The Diocesan Certificate in Catechesis, provided by the Office of Mission and Ministry, is a good example. Announced last May, it has been a real success. This in-demand programme examines the vocation and mission of the participants inspired to share their faith with others. Thanks to your support, it gives them the tools to assist others on their faith journey. In particular, it helps them ‘accompany families’ sensitively and practically as they initiate young people into the life of the Church through Baptism, Confirmation, and the reception of Holy Communion.

Other creative programmes supporting lay people to nurture their adult faith, and engage with young people include, ‘Servant Leadership, Pathways, Lay Funeral Leadership, Confirmation Connect’ and the Laudato Si’ Awards, as well as the ‘Just Lent’ campaign which focused on Christian social justice during Lent. These programmes help us to stop and ‘abide’ with Jesus to realise God’s loving presence with us.

In light of all these significant initiatives, I ask for your generous support for the Lay Ministry Collection. Your contributions are vital in sustaining and expanding these initiatives, ensuring our Church remains a vibrant beacon of hope and faith in the world. As we heard in today’s gospel: ‘It is to the glory of the Father that you should bear much fruit.’ (John 15: 8). May the Lord bless you generously and help you find ways to bear fruit for Him and each other in abundance.

There can be a new beginning for each of us as we allow our sense of Christian faith, hope and love to grow within us. But that is only the first step. We are called at Baptism, all of us, to speak joyfully of the presence of the risen Christ to us and of the difference the Holy Spirit makes in our lives: ‘We know that he lives in us by the Spirit that he has given us.’ (1 John 3: 24). I invite you to consider your role in the mission handed on to us by Jesus. Together, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can forge a path of hope and renewal for our Archdiocese.

+ Dermot Farrell