DISMAY: John Foley and Pat O’Sullivan pictured with over 100 Kilcummin parishioners on Tuesday afternoon, who came out to protest their anger at the shock news that the community will no longer have a parish priest. Photo: Michelle Crean
“It’s taking the heart out of our parish”
By Michelle Crean
Kilcummin locals who are “utterly devastated” following news this week that they’re to lose their priest – are planning a public meeting tonight (Friday) in a bid to fight the move.
Locals learned the news, which they said has left them “deeply shocked” and “bewildered”, at the weekly 7.30pm Mass on Saturday night, with the message again relayed at the 9am and 11.15am Masses on Sunday morning by Bishop Ray Browne that Fr Eamon Mulvihill, will be moving on – with no priest to replace him.
Some of the 100 locals, who met on Tuesday afternoon outside the church, told the Killarney Advertiser that the news is a devastating blow to their large community of approximately 2,000 people, which is 11 miles long and five miles wide, hasthree national schools, two nursing homes with up to 100 elderly people – saying they are one of the best parishes in the county for church collections.
Some who were visibly angry, told the Killarney Advertiser that the Bishop casually and quietly mentioned the loss of the priest during his sermon.
Fr Eamon, locals explained, was brought into the parish two years ago and was only getting to know the parishioners, and also brought a lot of the young people back to the church.
They say they are also confused with the news which is “a bolt out of the blue” as the presbytery recently got new windows and doors.
At tonight’s meeting, which is expected to attract hundreds of locals, they will discuss their next move in the community hall at 9pm.
“We’ve nothing against anyone, we just want to fight our corner,” Pat O’Sullivan told the Killarney Advertiser.
“We heard it last Saturday night. The Bishop came and announced it at Mass, and it’s left the whole community in shock. We know to look at our parish priest that he is just devastated – the parish is numb.”
John Foley added that it’s an awful attack on the parish.
“People are disappointed and upset – they’re in shock.”
Locals Dermot and Bernie Lenihan said they are just bewildered with the news.
“We’re devastated. We’re from Kilcummin for generations – it’s going to lose its identity.”
A spokesperson from the Diocese of Kerry said six of the 53 parishes are already without a resident priest.
“The retirement of three priests this summer means that two more parishes will be without a resident priest. These two parishes are Castlemaine in the Killorglin Pastoral Area and Kilcummin in the Killarney Pastoral Area. In each of the two parishes a ‘Planning Meeting’ open to all from the parish is being arranged.”
A full list of changes in each diocese will be released on the Diocese of Kerry website today (Friday).