Reduction in Masses in Cloyne diocese due to a shortage of priests

Were it not for retired priests the overall effect would be much more obvious

There are now 29 parishes with a single priest in Cloyne. Photograph: iStock

There are now 29 parishes with a single priest in Cloyne. Photograph: iStock

 

Catholics in the Cork diocese of Cloyne have been advised that there may be no Masses in parishes where a priest is sick or on holiday. The dioceses’s Council of Priests has asked that, in such instance, the faithful attend Mass at another church in the same parish.

They remind people that “in the era of Penal Laws when there were far fewer priests than now and few places of worship, our forefathers retained a deep devotion to the Mass”.

A notice posted in Cloyne’s churches said that “as a diocese we are facing the reality of a reduced and aging presbyterate. There are now 29 parishes with a single priest and even urban centres have fewer priests than heretofore. Were it not for the generous service of our retired priests the shortage would be much more obvious.”

Each reduction in personnel meant that more and more was being asked of parish priests and priests generally, it said. “If we are to honestly and prudently to face up to the situation, then difficult situations must be faced, including the reduction of Masses,” it said.

It was now diocesan policy that “each priest should normally celebrate two Sunday Masses and no more than three Sunday Masses, including the vigil Mass” (on Saturday evenings). “Each parochial church should have at least one Sunday or vigil Mass (An exception can be made in parishes where a priest serves four parish churches).”

There should be “no more than one vigil Mass in each parish” and “priests should allow for at least 90 minutes between Mass-times on Sundays”. Additional Masses, such as for funerals or weddings, “should not be scheduled on a Sunday” while “a temporary reduction in Sunday Masses may be introduced to provide for the priest’s annual leave or where a priest is absent due to illness”.

It said that “in the event of a Sunday Mass being cancelled, we appeal to parishioners to choose one of the alternative Masses within their own parish”.

It continued that “in the era of the Penal Laws, when there were far fewer priests than now and few places of worship, our forefathers retained a deep devotion to the Mass. The Eucharist sustained and strengthened the strong tradition of faith that we have inherited.”

It concluded: “May our times, which also challenge the Christain faith, mark a renewal in the quality of our Eucharistic devotion.”