FOUR years after it was opened there is still a debt of €1.4 million on Tullamore’s Parish Centre. A further appeal to parishoners was launched last week in a bid to meet the monthly repayments of €10,800.
Parish Priest Monsignor Sean Heaney said the parish needs to raise an extra €2,000 per week to repay the bank loan on the Parish Centre which cost €2.2million to build following the demolition of the old St Mary’s Hall.
“This is not the first appeal we’ve made about the Parish funds,” explained Mons Heaney. “We have been highlighting the situation for some time now, but we have reached crisis point.”
One of the proposals made is that parishoners make a weekly contribution of €5 which at 52 weeks a year works out at €260 per year and qualifies the donor for a tax credit for that amount.
“The minimum amount to qualify for the tax credit offer is €250 per year,” pointed out Mons Heaney.
“All parishoners have to do is fill out a form naming the Parish as the recipient and give their RSI number. All they have to do then is give €5 per week in the green envelopes which are sent to every household. Already many people are giving €3 per week in the envelopes and then €2 per week for the plate collection, we’re just asking them to change it all to the envelope.
“There are a huge number of people in the area who avail of the services of the church from Christenings to Weddings, First Communions and Funerals. We’re just appealing to them to make a fixed contribution through the envelope.
“At the meeting last week there was a suggestion that the clergy should have a fixed charge for providing services at weddings and funerals, but in the 48 years I’ve been a priest I’ve never asked for a contribution, people mostly make a donation.”
Mons Heaney hopes that if enough parishoners make the tax credit contribution that within five years the parish will be in a position to re-negotiate the loan. “The loan is for 15 years, we’ve 12 years still to run, but if we can keep up repayments then in a few year’s time we will be in a position to request better terms.”
The parish priest also pointed out that the parish has considerably reduced its running costs by almost €80,000 in the past few years.
“That is a considerable reduction. We’re not squandering money by any means and the parish does offer a great service, hopefully people will help to maintain that level of service through contributions.”