By Sean Ryan - 07 July, 2017
Bishop of Kerry Dr Ray Browne speaks of shortage of priests in his diocese and outlines principles that will guide parish life when weekly Sunday Mass is not possible.
The Bishop of Kerry Dr Ray Browne has said that “the day is not far off” where not every parish in the Diocese of Kerry will be able to have Sunday Mass, due to the shortage of clergy.
The clerical changes in the diocese which were made this week see a sixth parish, Knocknagoshel, without a resident priest. Already, Valentia Island in the south west, Allihies in west Cork, Tarbert, Ballyheigue and Duagh are without resident priests.
Commenting on his clerical changes, Bishop Browne said “Soon it will not be possible to have a weekend Mass in every church in the diocese. That day is not far off. In all there are 111 churches in our 53 parishes in the diocese. Most parishes have two or three churches, a small number have one church, and one parish has four churches.”
He added “When that decision has to be made, and a local community finds that is the situation regarding their church, we will have some guiding principles.”
Commenting on these principles, Bishop Browne said “A priority is that the church area community continue as a separate faith community, with its own identity, its committees, its National School etc. Where appropriate, funeral Masses, marriages, baptisms, first Friday Masses, will continue in that church”.
Secondly he said that “Parishioners will attend ‘Sunday Mass’ in neighbouring churches. ‘Community spirit’ may involve sharing transport to ensure everyone has the opportunity to travel to a neighbouring church. Celebrating Sunday Mass is always the weekly communal prayer of every baptised person.”
Two priests in the Diocese of Kerry have passed away this year. They include popular writer Fr Pat Moore and Fr John Lucid.
In the autumn there will be three permanent deacons ordained in the diocese. Bishop Browne concluded saying “I thank everyone, laity, religious, deacons and priests, for their participation in the life of the Church over the past year. God bless everyone, especially those for whom the past year has been difficult.”