Bishop Denis Nulty. Photo Kevin Byrne
Aspal, a new digital platform for faith formation, is now available for the benefit of people who wish to engage with and learn more about their Catholic faith.
It is the brainchild of the Adult Faith Development Group of the Diocese of Ossory in collaboration of Saint Patrick’s Pontifical University, Maynooth, and allows people to deepen their faith at a time of their convenience.
The team behind the service has now made it possible to access to the best lecturers available throughout the island of Ireland.
'A DIGITAL JOURNEY'
Launching the app, Rev Dr Dermot Ryan, director of the Ossory Adult Faith Development Group, said, "This is but the first step on our digital journey to serve the Church across Ireland by providing the very best faith formation to users and to do so in a way that makes learning more accessible by deepening our knowledge and love of God.
"The past number of years have seen us migrate to the digital space to a much greater extent than heretofore.
He continued: "Meetings, which once necessitated physical gatherings, have now moved seamlessly online.
Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin Denis Nulty
"Using similar technology developed over the past two years, the team at Aspal have built an online platform to enhance our faith formation.
"For anyone who wishes to deepen the faith and knowledge of Church teaching, I would encourage them to register on the Aspal app by logging on to www.aspal.ie and from there they can choose the course that they wish to follow.
"A lot of the content on the app will be free, such as the upcoming course on the Synodal Pathway which will be launched in the coming weeks.
"Where there is a charge, the cost of a course has been kept to a minimum."
In commissioning the first Aspal students - now trained to undertake roles in their parishes and pastoral areas - Bishop Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin and Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Ossory, said: "In preparing you for ministry in your parish communities we are but restoring old practices - albeit by using very modern technology - whereby people lead each other in prayer.
"In rural communities: were not animals and crops blessed by men and women who for years carried their Easter water home; were not prayers said as neighbours died; and, God spoken about in our domestic churches? Yours then is a future built on our strong past, yours is a baptism finding new life."
Father Ryan added: "The Aspal team, in collaboration with Saint Patrick’s Pontifical University, including the inspirational cooperation of Professor Séamus O’Connell, has delivered a weekly course on praying with the scriptures, lectio divina.
"Over 200 people followed the sessions which were released each week during Lent to enable participants deepen their understanding of, and love for, the scriptures: these pre-recorded sessions were supported by a number of live sessions which allowed for interaction, reinforced learning and provided wonderful moments of prayer together."
Fr Ryan also revealed that the Aspal team, through its collaboration with Saint Patrick’s Pontifical University, will offer all parishes and dioceses in Ireland an opportunity to offer faith formation to Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist within the next few weeks, thereby enabling those who help animate our liturgies to get the best possible preparation.
"This can be done in a time and place that best suits people in busy lives," Fr Ryan said.
According to Gemma Mulligan, who used the app to follow a Lenten Scripture course, "It was wonderful to have access to someone like Professor Séamus right in the comfort of our own home.
"Even though participants were from all corners of Ireland, it really felt like we were together in a room.
"It was a great way to learn, I will do more of this," She concluded.
Over the forthcoming weeks of the Easter season, and in the context of exploring the synodal journey, the Aspal team will support a collaboration between The Irish Institute for Pastoral Studies (Mary Immaculate College, Limerick), and Saint Patrick’s Pontifical University, in a course which will involve the leading synodal minds in the Church, including from Sister Nathalie Becquart, the Undersecretary to the Synod of Bishops in the Vatican.
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