Priest gets leave to reflect after his absence


A Co Mayo priest who has been away from his parish for the past fortnight has been granted leave of absence by the Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Michael Neary.

Father Noel Forde, who returned to his Castlebar parish of Breaffy on Friday after a holiday, has asked for time for reflection and prayer, Dr Neary said in a statement to parishioners yesterday.

The absence of Father Forde, who is chairman of the Mayo GAA County Board, had prompted media inquiries last week. On Saturday night he failed to say Mass in the parish.

The Archbishop said in his statement: "You will be aware that there has been great deal of rumour surrounding the circumstances of Father Noel Forde's absence from the parish during the past fortnight. This has caused a great deal of hurt to many people.

I consider that as the parishioners with whom Father Noel serves, you are entitled to expect that insofar as I may say anything about the matter, it will, first of all, be to you.

"Father Noel returned from his holiday on Friday last and came to see me. He was distressed by the media interest which had arisen. He has asked that he be afforded a period of time for reflection and prayer.

"In order to help him in this regard I have granted him leave of absence from his parish duties. I hope that he will now be able to find the opportunity for reflection. I have asked the priests of Castlebar to ensure that the pastoral needs of Breaffy are fulfilled during Father Forde's absence."