Beyond Borders: A Story about a Priest in Portugal

Father José António Carneiro, celebrating after ordination in 2010.

“It is creative, daring also, to be able to think differently without ceasing to be faithful to the essential”

— Father Jose Carneiro

Jacqueline Marie | Sept. 14, 2022

Father Jose has been the Pastor of the joint parishes of Santa Eulália de Fafe e Santa Comba de Fornelos since 2017. Historically it had an “immense vitality between the 80’s and 90’s,” he relates, but in recent decades has seen far fewer parishioners in the pews and now stretches to cover larger neighbourhoods. Father Jose knows he is not alone in feeling this holy discontent, “this disquiet” about what is happening in parishes.  

 Father Jose connected to DR through a brother priest, who directed him to Leadership Coach, Father Tiago Veloso.

Father Jose, centre, at Mass at The Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in his parish

“I came to Father Tiago through other priests, here in our diocese of Braga, particularly Father Sérgio Torres through our conversations and sharing about parish ministry.” Father Jose started in coaching with DR in 2021 with a cohort of Portuguese priests. “Now,” he states, “I try to put all this into practice.”

Father Tiago has helped him apply DR’s principles of parish renewal to the Portuguese context. Through coaching Father Jose has raised up a Senior Leadership Team and together they are working on casting at vision for their parish. He says creating a vision is key to “enthuse the whole, to be the leaven to free the whole parish in this sense of renewal.” 

Father Jose states: “It is creative, daring also, to be able to think differently without ceasing to be faithful to the essential, because we are not going to reinvent the Gospel. Let’s not reinvent the sacraments, let’s not invent a liturgy or a rite, let’s not reinvent what the Church already has that is good.”

 Father Jose connected to DR through a brother priest, who directed him to Leadership Coach, Father Tiago Veloso.

A Global Mission

DR began coaching Portuguese priest, Father Tiago in 2018. The pastor of a thriving parish in Lisbon, he has gone on to coach 21 brother priests in Portugal including Father Jose.

Coaching in Portuguese to his brothers, Father Tiago has regional insight to apply the DR principles in a way that fits with the cultural context. Portugal is one of 27 countries DR is active in: inspiring, equipping and connecting parishes in their move from maintenance to mission.

Rather than changing the essentials, he is changing his approach to leading through focusing on the primacy of evangelization, the power of the Holy Spirit and the best of leadership principles.

Father Jose

As he walks down the path of parish renewal, Father Jose knows that “nothing sown can be reaped in one day” but hopes in a few years to see the parish full of “people who reactivate, then activate others, and all of us together build and are, a Church faithful to the Gospel.”   

“Without God we can do nothing. Only God is able to do something, but also, He is ready to do something in each one of us.” 

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