The Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Charles J Brown, visited Derry on Saturday to take part in a conference attended by more than 500 people from across the diocese.
The conference, entitled ‘The Door of Faith is Open’ was held on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and marks the beginning of the church’s Year of Faith.
Archbishop Brown paid tribute to Irish missionaries who travelled around the world to spread the faith and encouraged people to learn form their example and spread the gospel in their own lives.
He also said the Year of Faith offers Catholics an opportunity to learn more about their faith.
Former Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan also addressed the conference and outlined how key passages from the Second Vatican Council relate to different groups in society.
Fr Michael Drumm, Chairman of the Catholic Schools Partnership, told the conference there is a need to rebuild credibility in the church at this time.
Speaking at the end of the conference, Monsignor Eamon Martin said: “We have been able to discuss openly and honestly new ways of handing on the faith and how people can rediscover and renew their relationship with Jesus and the Church and this will feed into our plan for sharing the Good News into the future. The Second Vatican Council emphasised that the future of humanity rests on those who are capable of handing on to coming generations ‘reasons for living and hoping’. Despite the challenges facing us all at this time, the Year of Faith can help us to look to the future with hope and confidence. It provides us with an opportunity to renew and deepen our understanding of the faith through prayer and study so that we can profess and celebrate our faith in a more meaningful way. For those who are struggling with their faith and who may even have stopped practising their faith altogether, I pray that God will touch their lives this year and help them to find a way back to friendship with Jesus and with the Church – the door of faith is always open for us.”