Very Rev Sean Dooley PP
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Mellifont Parish in St Oliver’s Pastoral Area

In June 2010, Mellifont Parish joined with Mell Parish and St Peter’s Parish, Drogheda to form Saint Oliver’s Pastoral Area. This diocesan initiative was adopted in 2008 in response to a changing pastoral environment, with smaller congregations, reduced numbers of volunteers for ministry, and an aging clergy declining in numbers. Our parishes remain autonomous, but when a need arises, we collaborate to do together what is better organised as a Pastoral Area than separately as individual parishes.

To encourage this co-operation and to share knowledge on the resources available in our parishes, a Pastoral Area Resource Team (PART) meets about every six weeks. The PART consists of five people from each parish (including the parish priest and at least two from the Parish Pastoral Council). The priors of the Dominican and Augustinian Communities also attend, as they make a significant contribution to the pastoral life of our area.

Over the past few years, the PART has focused on three main themes: ecumenism, reconciliation and adult faith formation. Our Joint Ecumenical Prayer Services (for Christian Unity Week in January and World Day of Prayer in March) are now well established dates on our calendar. Our three parishes join with the two religious communities for joint Penitential Services each Advent and Lent. The PART has also arranged several series of faith lectures, DVD showings, evenings of reflection, and talks on topics like bereavement, safeguarding, and the Eucharistic Congress. It arranged both walking and bus pilgrimages during IEC2012, and holds joint retreat days and Eucharistic Celebrations for our PPC and PART members.

Gradually, openness to further co-operation will grow as our bond of Christian fellowship deepens. The Pastoral Area Resource Team is not an entity separate to the various ministries and activities of parish life; it is a resource to them, a first port-of-call for assistance to support and build vibrancy in our parish ministries. We have already experienced both clergy and laity leading services of worship in each other’s parishes, and this trend is likely to continue. The future will inevitably bring greater change for our parish, and our hope is that by praying and working together as a faith community of three parishes, we will deal with any challenge as best we can, as disciples following in the footsteps of Jesus:

“Let us go now to the neighbouring towns and villages
so that I can preach there also, for it is for this that I have come.”

Mark 1: 38

For further information on Saint Oliver’s Pastoral Area, or to contact our PART, contact our Secretary, Mary McGreehan on 086 08577520 or
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