‘Pastoral clusters’ proposed to combat falling priest numbers

PARISHES in the Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin, of which Killeigh, Edenderry, Daingean, Rhode, Portarlington and Clonbullogue are part of, could be grouped together in “pastoral clusters” to combat the decline in the number of priests.

PARISHES in the Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin, of which Killeigh, Edenderry, Daingean, Rhode, Portarlington and Clonbullogue are part of, could be grouped together in “pastoral clusters” to combat the decline in the number of priests.

Kildare & Leighlin has eighty four priests (25 aged 70+, 13 aged 55-69, 31 aged 45-64 and 15 under 45 - figures as at September 1, 2010). Twenty retired priests are still active and help in parishes and there are 13 other priests, who are not K & L priests, working in the diocese.

In a summary report released this week Diocesan Administrator Mons Brendan Byrne said that the aim of the consultation was ‘to get people thinking, to be proactive not reactive about all ministries and services’.

However, he emphasised that no decisions have been taken and that the next stage will begin with the appointment of a new Bishop.

He explained, “Over the last 10 years or so, we have begun to group some of the 56 parishes in our diocese together under one parish Priest. At present 17 parishes are grouped together in eight ‘clusters’. People had the opportunity to give their views on a draft map and a later revised version that grouped our 56 parishes into 13 possible ‘pastoral areas’.

“Both draft maps are available on www.kandle.ie along with a summary of people’s responses at the meetings. We had two rounds of meetings all across the diocese under the title ‘Sharing the Lord’s Mission’. These well attended gatherings reaffirmed that people have a very strong attachment to their local church and parish.

“We have 117 churches in our 56 parishes. At the same time, people recognise the need now for sharing ministries, services and resources (including sharing priests) between neighbouring parishes.

“I would like to thank everyone for their very positive participation in this process. It has left us better informed and better prepared for what lies ahead.”

Mons Byrne went on to ask “how local is local?” and said the aim of the consultative process had been to create a more healthy and sustainable model of ministry and to best serve the mission of the church at this time.

In another development Mons Byrne announced details of a new translation of the Roman Missal which is the book that contains all the prayers for the celebration of the Eucharist.

“We have used our present English language edition of the Roman Missal since 1975. This text was a translation from

the Latin edition of that time which is the ‘original’ edition on which all translations are based. A new English translation is being introduced this year. The new translation is intended to bring the English version closer to the Latin text – which means the language of the prayers will be somewhat elevated compared to what we have now. It also seeks to strengthen the scriptural imagery within the prayers.”

The new translation is being introduced in two phases to avoid too much change happening at once. “From September 11 we will begin to use the new people’s parts of the Mass (eg Confiteor, Creed etc). We will have special cards for the Congregation in all the churches with the new responses. From the First Sunday of Advent (November 27), the new Missal will be used by the priest for everything from then on.”