What you said – Diocese of Limerick

What you said – Diocese of Limerick There were calls in Limerick for women to play a more prominent role in the Church.

The diocese of Limerick is made up of 60 parishes spread across three counties in the Mid-west with a Catholic population of approximately 155,000 out of a total population of 177,000. In April 2016, the diocese held a diocesan Synod, the first since 1937.

The principal themes discussed in the Diocese of Limerick are as follows.  This is an edited version for space of the full synthesis but remains true to the original in wording.


Faith is still valued by people, however people’s understanding of their faith is in greater decline, the lack of good catechesis is still an issue as it was back in 2016.

The hope and support of faith are both mentioned in the Diocese’s report, From the data, it can be concluded that personal faith is far from dead. Most people surveyed agreed that faith in God and being a member of the Church can bring hope and meaning. Some people said that whilst they currently were not believers they valued the influence that faith has on the lives of others. One group said how it was a ‘privilege to have faith’.

Lack of faith shown by young people

An observation was made about how the elderly people ‘have great faith, are committed to good spiritual and liturgical activity, and have core spiritual beliefs’. The ‘middle generation, down to the young, are struggling to understand their faith, and are selective about what to accept in their faith which leads to confusion’. Responses from one group of young adults indicated that some young people are too busy with their everyday lives to give much time or consideration to the Church or spirituality.

Empty pews, uncertain future

 There were also fears relating to challenges around levels of participation in the life of the Church, particularly in the formal practice of the faith. The global pandemic provided the opportunity for the Church to truly ‘be a field-hospital’ and while it was this for some, somewhat paradoxically it seems that Covid accelerated an already evident trend whereby the Church is no longer at the centre of Irish society.

There were accounts from “God-fearing people in the parish” who don’t go to Mass who also believed that the ‘Church needs to be less forceful, you can still be a Catholic and not go to Mass’. What comes across from a number of respondents is the need for a vision for parish that is wider than going to Mass.

Distrust of Church

Participants expressed a lack of trust in the Church as institution and a sense that the Church is overly identified with morality, particularly sexual morality. In some places there was scepticism around this Synodal pathway expressed in such declarations as ‘nothing will change’. Indeed, some people feel that nothing has changed since the Limerick Diocesan Synod of 2016, that people are not properly listened to and no concrete action emerged from it.” 


 There was broad consensus around the need for rituals and in particular those related to death, grief and supporting the bereaved. Sacraments are also highlighted and the rituals themselves are considered important and valued.

Some feel that the laity should be far more active in the liturgical celebrations and not just passive observers. A number of people described the Eucharist as being too repetitive.

Many liturgies were described as being poor. Church language is not connecting with the laity; a new language is required. Homilies were described as being flat, boring and not speaking to where people were at.


One of the strongest points raised in the responses from parishes and social groups is that the Church is often not as inclusive and relevant as it should be. There was a clear call for the Church leadership to be inclusive of the LGBT community, women, single parents and other marginalised groups was made.

A need for renewed faith development

A gap was evident in people’s faith education demonstrating the need for quality teaching, that has not been silenced or watered down, to reach the faithful (young people in particular), who express a hunger for the truth; it is not that they know what they want but they know when it is missing.

What might the Holy Spirit be saying?

There are many realistic voices re the difficulties that face up moving on as Church. It is recognised that terrible mistakes were made. The abuse scandals were mentioned by respondents.

Another respondent remarked that ‘a lot will be asked of those who stay’ while someone else said ‘we have to begin again with the weight of history on our shoulders’. ‘We have to develop the trust of the people again.’ The Diocese questioned if “our Church is ready, able and willing to receive and walk with the person who is seeking to belong?”.

To do so, respondents have offered their views that we must offer an alternative story to a prevailing public narrative that often overly focuses on doom and gloom; respond imaginatively to the spiritual needs of the young; be inclusive; and create a vibrant minority.

Moving forward, respondents affirmed that the Church needs to focus on becoming more welcoming, showing we care, listening, helping and celebrating as communities. One respondent mentioned the development of ‘basic Christian communities’. Others noted the need for faith spaces for hospitality/prayer/learning/spirituality and responses proceeding out of ‘wellbeing’ initiatives but with a Gospel understanding.

Hope was also a theme that emerged from the reading of the Synodal submissions, and from that positive foundation stone the future church of greater communion, participation and mission can be rebuilt.