The list of changes this year is short. That is a good thing for the following reason. More and more we are seeing our diocese as both 53 parishes and 12 Pastoral Areas. Each Pastoral Area has typically three, four or five priests. Every change thus disturbs a Pastoral Area as well as a parish. It is vital to keep such disturbances to a minimum.
Last year I mentioned that in the years immediately ahead hard decisions would have to be made; – deciding that, in a small number of situations, a particular church would no longer have a weekend Mass. I outlined two principles:
- 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.
- 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.
The situation gives rise to concern and deep sadness on the part of all of us. It is the inevitable result of the absence, in the past decade especially, of vocations to the priesthood in our diocese. Thank God we have just had our first Ordination in eleven years, Fr Sean Jones of Moyvane parish. Please pray for him and for our two seminarians and for vocations to the diocesan priesthood.
Sunday Mass in the lives of children: There is another very important dimension to Sunday Mass. Is attendance in your church healthy? How do we promote Sunday Mass attendance? I thank all who are loyal in regularly joining in the celebration of Mass on Sunday. I thank especially all the families whose children and teenagers participate. Some older people have remarked that it is sad to see so few young people joining us. Is that true of your local church? This is a great challenge before each and every parish. It has many dimensions.
All of us admire the dedication and sacrifice of parents who week in week out drive their children to various activities: Gaelic or some other team sport; lessons in keyboard, dance, speech and drama or something else in the arts; youth club, language classes, – the list is endless. The hope is that this will give opportunity for their personality and character to further develop, or maybe provide them with a life-long interest.
What value is there in bringing your child to Sunday Mass? In ten or twenty years’ time might you look back and say Sunday Mass was the weekly activity that made a difference: by giving your child a sense of the spiritual, and a sense of Sunday as a day for rest and time for God; by giving them a sense of their own dignity and goodness; by giving them a sense of the mystery of God and of God’s goodness and the mystery of love at the heart of everything?
Being sensitive to Sunday Mass times: In the past ten or fifteen years there has been a major reduction in the number of Saturday vigil and Sunday morning Masses in our diocese. Most churches now have only one Mass. I ask all communities to consider the following question:
If the local church has just one Mass at a specific time then is it wise to regularly stage a practice or event for sport or culture or fund-raising, be it for children or adults, at the same time?
Many people would like to be present at both. By having a clash of times, both suffer attendance wise. Over time it could actually weaken both sides. It is in all our interests that all sides thrive. This applies everywhere a church has just one Mass, it applies especially to rural communities. It has special relevance where it involves groups of children and it is also a weekly clash. If all groups can be sensitive to each other’s situation, it will be to the benefit of all. In the autumn maybe every Parish Pastoral Council can discuss this important issue.
SUNDAY: A day of rest from work; A day for home and family, and for things of the heart and the spirit; the Lord’s day, a day to gather at the parish Mass.
Leading up to the World Meeting of Families: A time for Joy and Faith. Within a matter of weeks, Ireland will host the World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis will visit. We are all invited to use these coming weeks as time for a spiritual preparation for the World Meeting and the visit.
In preparation let us all ponder deeply the joy and importance of family, and let us recommit wholeheartedly to our own families. Work for a society that provides the best possible environment for family life to thrive.
For five years now Pope Francis has been an inspiration in calling the People of God worldwide to live their faith wholeheartedly: “If you believe God has been good to you, ought you not to share the Gospel and pour out love towards your sister and brother, especially if they are in need, spiritual or otherwise?” Pope Francis challenges us all to be people of prayer and people of faith, hope and love.
Please join with the many throughout the diocese and the whole of Ireland who are making a spiritual preparation for these two great events in late August.
Bishop Ray Browne 6th July 2018
Bishop Ray Browne wishes to announce the following appointments of clergy in the Diocese of Kerry:
Fr. Anthony O Sullivan returns from Sabbatical and during the coming year will supply for priests taking short sabbatical breaks.
Fr Bernard Healy curate St Johns Parish Tralee to pursue further studies in the Irish College Rome.
Fr Sean Jones newly ordained to be curate St John’s Parish Tralee.
Priests of all Pastoral Areas of the Diocese take up different responsibilities outside their own parishes and within the Pastoral Area. This will be decided and communicated locally.
These changes will become effective on Wednesday, July 25th 2018
Nicholas Flynn (Rev.)
6th July 2018