TOP TABLE: Claire Fleming (Kilcummin Pastoral Council), Cllr Marie Moloney and Donal O’Sullivan at the top table at a public meeting in Kilcummin Recreational Hall on Tuesday night to discuss the loss of the area’s resident parish priest. Picture: Eamonn Keogh
By Sean Moriarty
Kilcummin parishioners are not going down without a fight – with plans to hand deliver a 1,200 signature petition to Bishop Ray Browne.
The action comes after locals held another public meeting on Tuesday night in their continued fight against theloss of their parish priest.
A delegation from the Pastoral Council had met with the Bishop last week in an effort to reverse his decision.
Parishioners were left shocked and angry last month to learn that they’d no longer have a resident priest after the Bishop made the decision to move Fr Eamon Mulvihill to the parish of Castlegregory.
Priests from the Killarney area will now serve the Kilcummin parish – which is one of the biggest in Ireland with three schools, two nursing homes and two cemeteries.
It is all part of a restructuring project, initiated by the bishop, due to the lack of new priests coming through the ranks.
Tuesday night’s public meeting organised by the Pastoral Council explained to locals the outcome of the recent meeting with the bishop.
“There was a suggestion from the floor that our next step is to take the petition to the bishop,” Cllr Moloney told the Killarney Advertiser.
It is understood that a large proportion of those who signed the petition would accompany members the Pastoral Council when they hand in the petition.
However, Cllr Moloney and other council members pointed out that this would not be an organised protest and that attending the hand-over was up to each individual.
“It is up to the people if they want to join us, but we won’t be rallying the troops either,” Cllr Moloney added.
Six priests, three from Killarney and the respective parish priests from Fossa, Glenflesk and Firies will look after the Kilcummin parish in an on-going six week rota system.
Locals believe this cannot work and cited a similar issue in Keel, Castlemaine where the priests are on a four-week rota.
Locals believe that the priests will be too busy looking after their own parish and that their visits to other parishes will suffer.
“There was no priest available to say 10am Mass at Keel Church on Tuesday morning this week,” said concerned local John Foley. “Three days in to a new system and it is already not working. The same will happen in Kilcummin. There are six priests serving the 15,000 people in the Killarney area, so what happens if one of the priests on rota is too busy with duties in his own parish. That is why the people of Kilcummin are up in arms.”
There are also concerns that the pastoral house in Kilcummin will be left idle, with some locals calling for it to be made available to retiring priests.
It is understood that Bishop Browne agrees with this in principle, but that it would be up to each retiring priest if he wanted to accept relocating to Kilcummin not.