Ban on Sunday funerals introduced in Kerry

Decline in vocations means very few parishes have full-time priests to cover duties

A ban on Sunday funerals in the Diocese of Kerry has come into force.

The changes, scheduled for the beginning of September, were announced in May by Bishop of Kerry Dr Ray Browne

A spokeswoman for the diocese this weekend said the policy is now in effect.

The 53 parish diocese is undergoing major changes with a decline in the number of priests. Now just one priest under the age of 40 is serving in the diocese and six parishes in the diocese which takes in part of west and north Cork and stretches across three peninsulas to the Limerick border now have no resident priest.

In July, Bishop Browne said the day was not far off when all churches would not have a weekend mass.

Provisions to fill in for the empty parishes mean the diocese has been divided into pastoral areas, corresponding to old deaneries. The decline in priests means very few parishes now actually have a full-time priest as a rota system in the pastoral areas to cover others is rolled out, the Bishop has also said.

However, Bishop Browne also looked to the growing role of the laity in Kerry in administering to each other’s spiritual needs.

Kerry is only the second diocese – outside of the Archdiocese of Dublin — to introduce a ban on Sunday funerals. The ban on Sunday funerals is because of the extra liturgical demands on already over-burdened priests in Kerry. It applies from Saturday mid-afternoons, although removals to the church can take place on Saturday and Sunday evenings.

Bishop Browne said he realised many would have reservations about the decision. However it had been taken after extensive consultation with parish councils and with clergy.