The parishioners of Kilcummin will leverage the power of the church collection box “in order to be heard” by their Bishop in a response to the parish losing its full time parish Priest Fr. Eamon Mulvhill.
Donal Barry Reports
On Friday evening, almost 300 people packed out the local Recreational Hall, ironically a stone throw from the local church and presbytery. The meeting heard more than 40 contributions from the floor with most of them expressing their anger towards the Bishop of Kerry Ray Browne and his “advisors” who produced a plan to reduce another two Kerry parishes to having no parish priests.
The Bishops announcement sees both Kilcummin and Castlemaine lose their resident parish priest bringing the total to eight the number of Kerry Parishes without a full time priest, despite the fact that the Diocese of Kerry has a Catholic population of over 144,000 people, comprising of 53 parishes and 111 churches.
However with Msgr. Dan O’Riordan P.P. Castleisland, the Very Rev. Luke Roche PP Castlemaine and the Very Rev. Tadhg Ó Dochartaigh P.P. Firies retiring and with only one ordination in Kerry, numbers have become so tight that Bishop Browne choose to leave Kilcummin and Castlemaine without a resident priest but stated that “the parish of Kilcummin will be served by the priests of the Killarney Pastoral Area with Fr. Kieran O’Brien to be Moderator”
The Bishop in a statement revealed, “Recent consultations with the ‘parishes without a resident priest’ have shown that they are quite positive about their situation.”
A sentiment that held little water in Kilcummin with those present deciding to take action by choosing to withhold their church collections until there is a resolution as well as launching a parish petition that received over 300 names at the meeting with plans to travel the parish to get more to support them.
The community fear that that loss of a priest in an area, which has three primary schools and two nursing homes, will not receive the same care from “different priests showing up just to say Mass”. One voice from the floor said in response to a fear that Kilcummin will eventually be merged with the Killarney parish, “We are not Killarney people, we don’t want to be Killarney people, and we are Kilcummin People”
With the new change to become effective on Wednesday, July 17th, the Bishop is to send advisors to meet with the Kilcummin Parishioners on Tuesday 2nd at 8pm in Kilcummin and at Friday nights meeting parishioners put forward questions and some solutions as to how they may yet save their local priest.
While not attending the meeting Fr Eamon Mulvhill was said to have wanted to stay in the parish to finish out what he thought was a six-year stay. Fr Mulvhill is being transferred to Castlegregory just after a two year stay, leaving behind a priests house, which was bought by the community and a state of the art church that cost €1.2M to be built which was opened only 14 years ago. This was something that brought much anger too. “There was plenty more deserving voluntary groups in Kilcummin who could well have done with that €1.2M”
Bishop Browne in a statement to Outlook Magazines confirmed “The parish without a resident priest remains a fully independent parish with its own committees for pastoral, liturgical and financial matters. There is no change as regards baptisms, funerals, weddings, First Communions, Confirmations, and First Friday calls.” A view that many at last nights meeting still doubt.
The meeting decided to set up their own Facebook Page – “Save our Parish save our Priest” asking people to sign their online petition. People can also get the chance to do it at this weekend’s Masses in the community or can call to their local Post office to sign the petition.