No guarantee that Sunday Mass will be celebrated in all churches in the Diocese of Limerick

Bishop Brendan Leahy

LAYs will take a more active role in the Diocese of Limerick as Bishop Brendan Leahy admits that he can no longer guarantee that Mass will be celebrated in all the churches of the diocese every Sunday for lack of priests.

Archbishop Leahy says members of the public will be asked to lead a range of services from prayers at funerals to preparing children for the sacraments as the Catholic Church faces declining clergy numbers.

Announcing the latest round of clerical appointments, he said rapid changes to deal with declining clergy numbers meant that “we must look to lay leadership in parishes and work more closely together in the Church “.

Three priests, the Fathers. Anthony O’Keefe, Frank Duhig and Ed Irwin are retiring, while Fr. Séamus Madigan returns to the diocese after leaving the Defense Forces where he served for the past few years as Chief Chaplain.

Due to the declining number of priests, a number of pastoral units will lose a clergy member, Bishop Leahy said.

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“It is no longer news that the number of clergy in active ministry is rapidly declining. The aging profile of the clergy is also now very evident. It is clear at this stage that we can no longer guarantee the celebration of a mass in every church in the diocese every Sunday.

“The rapid changes call us to consider and work to establish new forms of lay leadership in our parish communities. We have already started formation programs to help lay people take on new pastoral roles. We have to build on that. We hope others will come forward to offer their services.

“We will need lay people to lead prayers at funerals, at graves, to visit schools on behalf of the parish, to be involved in pastoral councils and baptismal teams, to assist in the practical administration of parishes.

“Fortunately in the Diocese of Limerick there are many good lay people with skills and a commitment to faith and they will contribute a great deal to the future shape of things.”

In his letter to clergy announcing the changes, Bishop Leahy noted that working closely together will be essential as the Church adapts.

“We all need to work urgently to prepare for the new arrangements that will be needed in the years to come. It is by working together, encouraging each other and facing challenges with peace of mind combined with realism and determination that we move forward,” he added.

Administrative changes:

Bishop Leahy made the following clerical changes, effective September 10.

  • Canon Anthony Mullins, continues as Vicar General and Co-Parish Pastor in the Pastoral Unit of Abbeyfeale, Athea, Templeglantine, Tournafulla/Mountcollins, appointed Episcopal Vicar for Pastoral Ministry and Mission in the Diocese.
  • Prof. Éamonn Fitzgibbon, continuing as Vicar General appointed Episcopal Vicar for the Promotion of Synodality.
  • Canon Frank Duhig will retire as co-parish priest and moderator of the pastoral unit comprising the parishes of Newcastle West, Mahoonagh/Feohanagh/Castlemahon, Monagea while continuing to assist the unit, and appointed liaison priest for the pastoral care of the priests of the diocese.
  • Canon Anthony O’Keeffe will retire as co-parish priest of the pastoral unit comprising the parishes of Shanagolden/Foynes, Loughill/Ballyhahill, Glin, Coolcappa/Kilcolman, while continuing to provide pastoral assistance in the diocese.
  • Prof. Edwin Irwin will retire as co-parish priest of the pastoral unit comprising Knockaderry/Cloncagh, Rathkeale, Ballingarry/Granagh parishes, while continuing to assist pastorally in the diocese.
  • Canon Gerard Garrett has been appointed moderator of the pastoral unit comprising the parishes of St John’s, St. Michael’s, Sts. Patrick and Brigid’s and Monaleen.
  • Prof. Noel Kirwan, released as co-pastor and moderator of the pastoral unit comprising the parishes of St John’s, St. Michael’s, Sts. Patrick and Brigid’s and Monaleen, and granted a period of sabbatical leave.
  • Prof. David Gibson, co-pastor of the pastoral unit comprising the parishes of St John’s, St. Michael’s, Sts. Patrick’s and Brigid’s and Monaleen, appointed pastor of the parishes of Rockhill/Bruree and Ballyagran/Colmanswell, and moderator of this pastoral unit.
  • Canon Joseph Shire, pastor of the parishes of Rockhill/Bruree and Ballyagran/Colmanswell, appointed co-pastor of the pastoral unit comprising St John’s, St. Michael’s, Sts. Patrick and Brigid and Monaleen.
  • Prof. Séamus Madigan, back in the diocese after his appointment as Chief Chaplain of the Defense Forces, followed by a period of sabbatical leave, appointed co-pastoral in the pastoral unit composed of the parishes of St John’s, St. Michael’s, Sts. Patrick and Brigid’s and Monaleen.
  • Prof. Frank O’Dea, co-pastoral and moderator of the pastoral unit comprising the parishes of Dromcollogher/Broadford, Kileedy/Ashford, Feenagh/Kilmeedy appointed co-pastoral and moderator of the pastoral unit comprising the parishes of Newcastle West, Mahoonagh/Feohanagh/Castlemahon, Monagea.
  • Prof. David Casey, co-pastoral and moderator of the pastoral unit made up of the parishes of Kilmallock, Effin/Garrienderk, Bulgaden/Martinstown appointed co-pastor and moderator of the unit made up of the parishes of Dromcollogher/Broadford, Kileedy /Ashford, Feenagh/Kilmeedy.
  • Prof. Michael O’Shea, appointed co-parish priest and moderator of a new pastoral unit made up of the parishes of Kilmallock, Kilfinane, Effin/Garrienderk, Bulgaden/Martinstown, Ardpatrick, Glenroe/Ballyorgan.
  • Prof. Willie Russell, co-curate of the pastoral unit comprising the parishes of Rathkeale, Ballingarry/Granagh, Knockaderry/Cloncagh will be co-curate of the unit comprising the parishes of Abbeyfeale, Athea, Templeglantine, Tournafulla/Mountcollins.
  • Prof. Derek Leonard, joint pastor and moderator of the pastoral unit made up of the parishes of St. Nicholas’ and St. Mary’s, appointed co-pastor and moderator of the unit made up of the parishes of Rathkeale, Ballingarry/Granagh, Knockaderry/ Cloncagh.
  • Prof. Richard Davern, co-pastoral unit consisting of the parishes of Patrickswell/Ballybrown, St. Paul’s, Mungret/Raheen/Crecora appointed co-pastor and moderator of the unit consisting of the parishes of St. Mary’s and St. Nicholas.
  • Pr. Robin Thomas, at the service of the Syro-Malabar community of Limerick, was recalled to his diocese to be replaced by another priest arriving from this diocese.

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