‘Voices of Hope’
Pastoral Letter from Most Rev. Donal McKeown D.D.,
5th November 2023
St Paul, writing to guide, strengthen and support the growing Christian community in Ephesus,
encouraged them all to reflect together on the nature of the Church, its various ministries and gifts,
and to creatively consider how every individual could play their essential, unique and important
part to grow and build up the Body of Christ.
‘Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is
the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting
ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.’
(Eph. 4: 15-16)
These prophetic words of St Paul take on added significance for us, the followers of Jesus within the
Diocese of Down and Connor, as we continue our synodal journey of discernment to identify and
meet the ever changing sacramental and pastoral needs of parishioners and society in our time.
In the weeks that follow, the Pathways to the Future initiative, which seeks to examine the mission,
structures and priorities of the Diocese of Down and Connor for the years ahead, will come into new
focus with the organisation of a series of parochial information and consultation sessions across the
diocese and I would encourage you all to take this opportunity to share your personal hopes and
dreams for the local Church.
Confronting this new reality will necessarily involve words to disturb the comfortable as we explore
the restructuring of parishes, the development of new ministries and consider new ways to meet the
increasing pastoral and sacramental needs. Change will be inevitable.
At the same time, it is also important to speak words that will bring comfort to the disturbed. The
Church will continue to support the faith development of all and provide for the needs of
parishioners in the abiding Truth that God is with his people.
This is an exciting time to be Church in Down and Connor and in the world. The world faces many
challenges – poverty, climatic change and the threat of war. Now, as in Jesus’ time, many people
are harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd (Mt 9:36).
In the weeks and months ahead, I encourage you all to engage in the Christian dialogue and
conversations that will be organised by the Pathways to the Future as we seek together to listen to
one another, to embrace the truth in love and to discern new ways to be ministers of mercy in our
day. I also encourage you to pay attention to the Signs of our Times and the concerns of our world
so that we can truly be missionary voices of hope to all.
The Church needs to hear your voice. The Church needs each person to speak the truth in love. We
need to embrace the challenges and we need voices of hope. Share your dreams and aspirations,
your cares and concerns. Let us embark on our diocesan Pathways to the Future with realism, joy
and hope and may God bless us all on our journey together. Bishop Donal Mc Keown Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Down and Connor
PATHWAYS TO THE FUTURE We are all challenged by Pope Francis, clergy and lay alike, to set out as missionary disciples with ‘Hearts on fire, feet on the move’ (Lk 24:13-35). Bishop Donal McKeown, Apostolic Administrator, has chosen today to write to all the faithful of the Diocese with a further missionary challenge for each one of us to step up to – to actively participate in the renewal of the Church in Down and Connor. He calls on us to be “voices of hope” for the Church and for the generations of faithful to come. On Friday we celebrated the Feast of St Malachy with a Day of Prayer for the Mission of the Church in Down and Connor, and began a time of prayer, sharing, listening, and discernment. We ask you to respond to Bishop McKeown’s call and get involved in the conversations about the future of your parish that will take place in the weeks ahead. We want you to share your hopes, your aspirations, and your concerns. We want you to think about what the suggested Families of Parishes that have been shared with you today means for your parish and what it means for you personally. What role could and will you play as part of your Family of Parishes? A meeting on Pathways to the Future will be held on Monday 13th November in St John’s Parish Centre, Falls Road, Belfast 7pm-9pm. To register, please contact your parish office on 02890 615702or download this form https://forms.office.com/e/8QcD1n4ucK or email
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
This is your opportunity to join the conversation about the future of our Church in Down and Connor and to be a voice of hope for the future.
WEEKLY OFFERTORY PROMISE The collection amounted to £1740.00 WORLD MISSIONS TOTAL £2445.00Thank you for your generous financial support. You can make your envelope contribution via the donate button on the Parish website home page also. www.stagnesbelfast.com
November Remembrance lists Are now available at front and side entrances of Church. Please post completed lists into post box located right hand side of Our Lady of Fatima Shrine. Thank you.
MASS FOR DECEASED The November Mass for Deceased will take place this Wednesday 8th November at 7pm. Parishioners who lost a loved one in the past year should have received their letter in the post ( IF NOT PLEASE CONTACT PARISH OFFICE) There is no need to reply, just turn up on the night to our remembrance Mass for your loved one. Everyone is welcome.
ST AGNES’ CHARISMATIC PRAYER GROUP Will be meeting every week on a Monday morning @ 11am in St Agnes’ Parish Centre. What a way to start your week! Old and new members are welcome. We will be joined by members of St Michael’s Prayer Group. Come Holy Spirit!
CAR PARK CLOSURE TUE 7TH NOVEMBER Fibre Broadband will be getting installed in the New Parish Office. Sorry for any inconvenience
Sat 04 (6.30pm): Sharon Walker, Owen Smith, Richard Glenholmes, Paul Mulligan, Paul Zemrowsky
Sun 05(9.30am): David Gillespie
Sun 05(12.30pm): Marianne Sinclair, Mark Sinclair, Ann Trainor, Lucy Gallagher, Sadie Mc Grillen, Billy Mc Veigh
Mon 06(10am): Nell & Jimmy Mc Kinney
Tue 07: NO MASS
Wed 08(10am): Priest’s intention
Thurs 09(10am): Thomas Mulvenna
Fri 10 (10am): Martin Crawford
Sat 11 (1pm): Priest’s intention
REMEMBER IN PRAYER
Recently Deceased: John Smyth, Bernadette Flynn
Month’s Mind: Sharon Walker
Anniversaries: Jean McAlea, Michael Connolly, Jimmy & Theresa
Armstrong, Mary Marley, Sarah “Sadie” Hughes, Bill Cinnamond, Mary Mc Keown, Geordie, Amelia & Frankie Mc Cann, Alice Mc Kee, Sheila Scappaticci, Kathleen Drain, Margaret Crossan, Maureen Mc Cann
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord!
THE FRIENDS OF ST MALACHY’S COLLEGE GALA DINNER. Sat 02nd Dec. in the College Hall. Tickets (£60) at firstname.lastname@example.org or Paypal.me/
ANNUAL CELEBRATION OF MASS FOR THE DECEASED TEACHERS OF THE DIOCESE OF DOWN AND CONNOR Tuesday 21st November 2023 at 7.30pm All Saints’ Church, Broughshane Road, Ballymena (Refreshments afterwards in the Parish Centre) AND Thursday 23rd November 2023 at 7.30pm Good Shepherd Church, Ormeau Road, Belfast (Refreshments afterwards in the Parish Centre) ANYONE WHO WISHES TO JOIN IN ONLINE CAN DO SO VIA THE PARISH WEBCAM
Anam Cara Belfast, the organisation that supports bereaved parents, is holding its monthly Parent Evening for bereaved parents on Monday 13th November at 7:30pm in the Balmoral Hotel, Belfast, BT10 ND. This event is free and open to all bereaved parents regardless of the age your child died, the circumstances of their death, or whether their death was recent or not. We also offer an online meeting taking place Monday 19th June at 7pm. To join please contact us on 028 95213120.
WOOL APPEAL Fr Stephen and Sr Oonagh from Holywood parish, along with the women in Hydebank will be knitting hats and scarfs for the homeless community in the run up to Christmas. If any parishioners have spare balls of wool, which could be donated to them, to help them with this very worthwhile project, please leave the wool into our Parish Office and Fr Stephen and Sr Oonagh will collect it. Thank you
TROCAIRE “Gifts of Change” Trócaire gifts at Christmas will now be known as “Gifts of Change” and we are hoping they will be available from the Sacristy in the next week or two
Pioneer Pledge for the month of the Holy SoulsA short-term pledge gives spiritual support and encouragement to people and their families who are living under a shadow of addiction. Further information from the Pioneers on 01 80-5 4226 or via www.pioneers.ie/pray
KNOCK ALL NIGHT VIGIL New departure from Clonard Monastery only at 1.30pm . Thursday 7th December returning to Belfast Friday 8th December at Noon. Price £60. This includes Dinner and Breakfast. To book phone Brendan on 02890 665211 between 9am & 5pm Monday—Friday. . Vigil Starts at 11pm and consist of the Rosary, Stations of the cross, Benediction and finishes with Mass @ 4pm
The countdown to the launch of St Vincent de Paul’s Christmas Appeal has begun. We will be launching this year’s annual appeal with SVP Presents An Evening of Seasonal Songs in Clonard Monastery on 19 November. Irish folk singer Malachi Cush, who will perform at the event, and compere for the evening, broadcaster Claire McCollum. Tickets can be purchased now at https://www.svp.ie/an-evening-of-seasonal-songs/