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Speed of change upsets Catholic congregation

Alderney | Published:

THE second in command in the Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth has admitted that communication with Alderney parishioners about plans for the island was mishandled.

Alderney's Adoremus Centre. (20180045)

Canon Michael Dennehy, vicar general of the diocese of Portsmouth, visited Alderney after parishioners sent a storm of letters to the bishop complaining about the various and speedy changes that have taken place over the past two months.

Canon Michael admitted: ‘We could perhaps have done a bit more preparation for this. I think perhaps we can take a few lessons from this and communicate more effectively all round and in a very Christian manner.’

After being without a resident Catholic priest for six years, the Bishop of Portsmouth surprised parishioners with the news that Father John Lavers would come to lead the parish with six sisters to live in the convent. Fr Lavers had the brief to set up a ‘powerhouse of prayer’ in the island, where prayers will be continually offered to strengthen Catholicism in the diocese.

It was an abrupt evolution for the parish, which had subsisted for six years on services led by lay ministers and parishioners giving communion, providing the music, looking after the church and its grounds and overseeing collections and clerical work.

Most of those responsibilities have now transferred to Fr Lavers, who has espoused new practices adopted in keeping with diocesan protocols. There has been disquiet over the timing of daily Masses, the introduction of additional Masses in Latin and the impact of the Adoremus Centre on the parish, which aims to run liturgical ceremonies on the internet.

The core of worshippers who had hitherto run the church claimed to have repeatedly sought open meetings with Fr Lavers to air concerns – but were ‘blocked’ from having them.

Matters came to a head at what was supposed to be a gentle ‘meet and greet’ with Canon Michael and Fr Lavers in the Church Hall after Mass last Sunday.

Full story in today's Guernsey Press

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