WITH three more parishes in the Diocese of Kerry left without resident priests, Bishop Ray Browne has appealed for prayers for vocations and he urged the public to do everything they can at local level to promote and encourage people to enter the priesthood and religious life.
Caherdaniel, Kilgarvan and Ballydonoghue have all lost a priest and moderators from the pastoral areas will now be responsible for running the parishes week to week.
Bishop Browne said it reveals the reality of the situation with 12 parishes losing their resident priests over the past 10 years.
“Parish priests are no longer full-time in their own parishes. They have a definite time commitment to the parish served by the priests of the pastoral area,” Bishop Browne said.
“Parish priests in the less populated parishes find themselves assisting in the town parish with its big population and many schools. It is particularly important that the parish with a moderator continues to have the same sense of purpose, energy and leadership as the other parishes,” he added.
The bishop said it is a great challenge to clergy and laity to ensure that all parishes continue to thrive and develop. Consultations are currently taking place throughout the diocese to develop a diocesan plan for the next five years.
“Every baptised person shares this pastoral co-responsibility. The hope is that greater participation of the laity in all aspects of parish life will enable each parish to continue to thrive,” he said.
Bishop Browne acknowledged that it has been a difficult and challenging year for every aspect of parish life, with limited or no congregations in church, the restrictions on funerals and weddings and so much more to contend with.
“Many homes and individuals have been seriously affected. Together, ever there for one another, we have come through. Sincere thanks to all clergy and the whole community for their dedicated service. A special word of thanks to parish secretaries,” he said.
Bishop Browne said he is conscious that churches still cannot accommodate all who would like to attend weekend Masses and he encouraged parishioners to consider attending a weekday Mass instead.
“It is important that we all keep regular contact with God. In these difficult times, God is a source of security and comfort,” he said.
Announcing the reappointment of five members of the clergy to new parishes, Bishop Browne acknowledged that is difficult for a priest to leave a parish after a year of near total lockdown and it is hard to move to a new parish with ongoing restrictions on all personal contacts likely to continue.
Fr George Hayes moves to Kenmare to succeed the retiring Fr Tom Crean, Fr Kevin McNamara replaces Fr Hayes in Glenflesk and Fr Brendan Carmody, who has spent several years in Zambia, succeeds Fr McNamara in Moyvane.
Fr Bernard Healy returns from studying in Rome to take up duties as curate in St John’s Parish, Tralee and Fr Martin Spillane moves from Caherdaniel to Brosna where he succeeds Fr David Gunn.