Priests and pastoral workers

Sir, – Every year, at about this time, priests and pastoral workers wait in dread for the phone call inviting them to a meeting with their bishop to tell them that they will be transferring to another parish. Most are shocked and sad to be told that they must leave behind many years of dedicated pastoral care to the people of the parish, that they must walk away to begin building new relationships with a brand new community.

However, their shock and sadness are multiplied many times over by the people of the community and parish that they must leave behind. The distress is openly visible in the faces of the elderly who hoped their priest would be there to celebrate their funeral Mass, the families who enjoyed a chat with the priest after Sunday Mass, and the children who will miss their pastoral worker and priest who guided them through their first holy communion and confirmation celebrations.

Yet, these changes are made, apparently, without consultation with the very people who will be affected most by their loss. Over the past 20 years, most parishes have established parish pastoral councils whose role, among others, is to work with their priest in providing pastoral care and support to their community. Why are pastoral councils not consulted by the bishop in relation to proposed changes? One of the purposes of the Share fund, to which the people contribute generously every Sunday, is communication between the diocese and the people. Certainly, in relation to the diocesan changes, communication is sadly missing. – Yours, etc,



Rathfarnham, Dublin 14.