By Dan Walsh
The parochial system that has served the Diocese of Ferns so well for generations and instilled pride and sense of belonging into each and every one of us is sadly giving way to a clustering of parishes all over Ireland as a direct response to the sharp decrease in vocations and the diminishing number of priests available for ministry.
This began in the Diocese of Ferns last year with the ‘amalgamation’ of St Aidan’s Enniscorthy, St Senan’s Enniscorthy, and Marshalstown/Castledockrell, with three priests looking after the parishes between them, coming into effect on August 15th.
Speaking at the time, Bishop Ger Nash said the diocese faced a challenge that “it is no longer possible to provide a priest for each parish of curacy.”
Bishop Nash also announced; “A new structure of ministry for the Diocese with priests working together as team to provide an opportunity for priests to focus on those areas of ministry which are life enhancing for them while at the same time providing an effective ministry to the people in the pastoral area when it is no longer possible to provide a priest for each parish or curacy.
It is currently announced that Monageer/Boolavogue will now be joining with Oulart/The Ballagh, Blackwater, Kilmuckridge/Monamolin, and Ballygarrett.
There are eight churches in these five parishes, and up to now there have been 19 Masses to be celebrated in the five parishes each weekend. As Fr Morgan White, now in Boolavogue, will be returning to the USA shortly at the request of his bishop, this will leave five priests to look after the eight churches.
The priests involved have met and decided that the number of Masses will have to be reduced to 13 Masses every weekend to enable them to cope adequately with their ministry.
Weekend Mass times in the various churches will be as follows:
Monageer: 6 pm Vigil 10 am Sunday
Boolavogue: 11 am Sunday
Oulart: 8 pm Vigil 11 am Sunday
Ballaghkeen 7 pm Vigil
Kilmuckridge 7 pm Vigil 11 am Sunday
Monamolin 6 pm Vigil
Blackwater 7 pm Vigil 10 am Sunday
Ballygarrett 6 pm Vigil 10 am Sunday
Weekday Masses will be changed also. Final decisions have yet to be made, but it is hoped that Monageer will have three or four Masses over the five days while Boolavogue will have one or two. Fr Butler of Ballygarret and Fr Cosgrave will attend to the Boolavogue Masses, weekend and weekday, between them.
It is important to make clear that any money that comes into a parish fund through the generosity of the parishioners will stay in that parish.
This new arrangement will begin in all five parishes on the weekend of 26th February, the First Sunday of Lent.