Year of Faith concludes after mixed success in Ireland

Some parishes embraced the opportunity to explore faith, while others did not

"The Year of Faith is a non-event” the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) reported during the summer after meetings with Priests’ Councils. It is perhaps fairer to say that the Year of Faith, which concluded last Sunday, had mixed success in Ireland, as some parishes and dioceses embraced the opportunity to explore and celebrate faith, while others saw the year pass by with hardly a comment.

“A number of parishes hosted missions or retreats during the Year of Faith, and we had a successful Faith Fest in Kilkenny in May which was well-received and the highlight of our year,” said Fr Dan Carroll from Ossory diocese. “But in general the Year of Faith was a bit hit and miss, and perhaps not as successful as I had hoped.”

Creative ways

Fr Dermot Ryan, one of the organisers of the Faith Fest in Kilkenny, said it was helpful to have a challenge to work towards. “The declaration of a Year of Faith demanded of us to come up with creative ways to explore and deepen our faith,” he told The Irish Catholic.

“It captured my imagination in that it motivated us to do a bit of work!”

Fr Vincent Sherlock, from the Diocese of Achonry said the year “focused thoughts and prayers around the Creed”. “Parishes, I think, saw it more as a backdrop than a roadmap insofar as it reminded us of where we’re coming from but didn’t set out to lead us along a prepared or choreographed path. I thought this was good and allowed for some personal and parish exploration along the way.”

Some people felt frustration at a lack of strategic planning and vision at diocesan level to energise parishes about the Year of Faith, but one pastoral worker told The Irish Catholic that what matters now is “not so much what we have accomplished as what we have begun”.


“Are there people who now want to explore a deeper relationship with Jesus through prayer and reflection? Are there people who have discovered a hunger to understand their faith at a new level? If this has begun then it gives us direction as regards where to now and even in the midst of the frustrations we can hope that seeds have in fact taken root and will bear fruit.” 

There were numerous Year of Faith celebrations in the Archdiocese of Tuam and Fr Fintan Monahan described it as “a great blessing”.

“At one of the Spring meetings of the Diocesan Pastoral Council Fr Tony King proposed that many of the great annual parish events would be promoted and renewed with the Year of Faith in mind.

“Several parishes really took that to heart and it was a great impetus to rejuvenate, develop and expand many religious and faith events throughout the diocese,” he said.


Jane Mellett, a Parish Pastoral Worker in Dublin said it was very useful to have a theme and a focus for the liturgical year.

“This year’s theme of faith and the fantastic symbol of the boat gave us a lot of scope. In Cherry Orchard parish people really got on board and we had lots of ideas around using the boat as a symbol of our faith journey especially during our mission week.”

Boat building

“Of course this all came to fruition with our boat building project. It was such a joy to see this become reality as the local Men’s Shed built a beautiful boat for the parish. It is now in the church as a symbol of all our faith journeys, our baptism, and a symbol of a community coming together on a common project.”

The Archdiocese of Armagh ended the Year of Faith at the weekend with the ordination of a deacon and Fr Rory Coyle told The Irish Catholic it was a year of ordinations, novenas and “our church celebrated 75 years which was another occasion to come to gather as a community of faith, and in general the year was an opportunity to promote awareness and encourage the practise of faith. The question now is, how do we build on the message?”