Post date: Jul 23, 2019 10:12:31 AM

As well as asking the Diocese to focus on a programme of spiritual renewal under the headings of ‘encounter, discipleship, and missionary discipleship’ Bishop Patrick has also asked the Deaneries of the Diocese to present realistic plans for the near future that will support this programme of renewal.

Across the Diocese of Nottingham we currently have about 85 priests serving in parishes, and it is anticipated that in the coming five years that number will reduce to approximately 60. In the Lincoln Deanery which includes Louth, Market Rasen, Woodhall Spa, and Mablethorpe as well as the city we currently have 6 priests and that number is expected to reduce to 4. In the city itself we currently have 3 priests and in the coming years that number is expected to reduce to 2.

Although we do not anticipate this happening for a couple of years, we have been asked at this stage to give the matter some thought and make some proposals on how our Deanery could be served with 4 priests and specifically for us how the 3 city parishes could be served by 2 priests. When speaking of our city parishes we recognise that although based in the city the parish boundaries extend some distance away from the city.

An immediate concern will be the number and timing of weekend Masses. When the time comes there will need to be changes but rather than dwell on that at this stage we would rather focus our thoughts on the other aspects of our Catholic life in the city which could potentially be affected by this change. How can we best support our mission to our Catholic schools, the universities, the hospital, the prison, and other institutions where priests have traditionally been involved? How can we continue to play a part in the ecumenical, inter-faith, and civic life of our city and neighbourhood? We recognise the contribution that Deacons and lay people already make in many areas but how can we strengthen that contribution for the future?

Initially we ask you to give this matter your thought and prayer over the holiday period, with conversations taking place at parish level. In the autumn we will seek to bring together representatives from our three Parish Pastoral Councils to explore a shared response to the challenges that lie ahead of us.