Windfall for Killaloe diocese as €678,000 left in will

 

A CATHOLIC diocese has received more than €670,000 in a will.

However, the diocese of Killaloe – which has been reliant on its 90 priests to keep it out of the red over the past three years – can only use the money to educate young men to become priests and to promote vocations.

According to the diocese’s annual accounts for 2010 and 2009, the diocese has received €678,330 under a “specific legacy” over the two years to boost vocations.

A spokesman for Bishop Kieran O’Reilly of Killaloe said yesterday that a further allocation will appear under the same heading in the diocese’s 2011 accounts, which are not due to be published until next December. He declined to state how much the 2011 allocation will total.

However, the spokesman said that the person who made the “specific legacy” inserted a condition that the money be used specifically for the education of young men towards the priesthood and the promotion of vocations.

The legacy comes against a continuing decline in the number of vocations and priests from the Killaloe diocese having to put their hands in their own pockets to keep the diocese out of the red.

Over the past three years, the priests have personally donated between €1,000 and €3,000 per annum to pay over €500,000 to the diocese.

The payments end on December 31st and have ensured that the diocese recorded a surplus last year of €93,941.

Fr Brendan Quinlivan said the money in the legacy “is ring- fenced” for the education of young men towards the priesthood and the promotion of vocations.

He said the diocese has one seminarian currently studying to be a priest.

This year was the first time in 14 years that the diocese ordained two priests in the one year – Fr Ger Fitzgerald of Castleconnell in Co Limerick and Fr Ger Jones of O’Brien’s Bridge in Co Clare.

Fr Quinlivan said recently that half of the diocese’s priests who continue to provide pastoral duties are aged over 60.

The diocese’s director of vocations, Fr Iggy McCormack, said yesterday that the legacy “is an extraordinary gift and extraordinarily generous in terms of resources promoting vocations. Other dioceses would be struggling with resources in promoting vocations, but we have no struggle.”

Fr McCormack said that the seminarian currently studying for the priesthood is a former hotel manager and a native of Birr, Co Offaly.

Fr McCormack also said the diocese is “very, very pleased” with its level of vocations.

“Of course, we would like more, but we were the only diocese in Ireland in 2011 with two ordinations.”

He is currently dealing with three men considering studying for the priesthood. He said: “I am discerning with them at the moment.

“Some of them may go on to study for the priesthood, some of them may not, but I am very pleased with the level of support from parishes for vocations where parish prayer groups are continuing to pray for vocations.”