As you will have heard, Fr John Maloney – curate in our parish since 2008 – has been re-assigned to the role of Administrator of the Parish of Attymass, where he will assume responsibility for the parish from the first weekend of September. Firstly and most importantly we congratulate Fr John and know that he will bring to his new assignment the many fine qualities and deep personal faith we have been blessed to witness over the past nine years. He will truly be missed but there will always be a sure welcome for him in this parish and in all our hearts.
From a parish point of view, Fr John’s transfer is especially significant at this time since, it means there will be only one resident priest in the Parish. This is a first for us and a regrettable sign of the times where vocations have been in a steady decline, seeing just one priest ordained for ministry in our diocese in the past thirteen years. This is a reality with which we are well familiar but its impact is certainly more deeply felt by us at this time.
With four churches and four church communities in the parish we will have to begin to re-imagine our future. There can be no doubt but that there will be consequences and changes for all church areas and it is certain we will have to re-assess Mass times etc. Today however, is not the day for that but it seems important to place this reality before you, the people of the parish, so that we can honestly and practically address our changed situation.
It is beyond doubt that the diocese would prefer to be in a position to appoint another priest to the parish but equally beyond doubt that, given our numbers, this is not possible. Another parish has been equally impacted upon in these most recent diocesan appointments and, at this time, there are two curates ministering in the entire diocese (with another serving as curate following his retirement a number of years ago). This means that of our twenty-three parishes, twenty are now served by one priest. Our parish is now included in that number.
In wishing Fr John every blessing as he prepares to take his leave of our parish, we thank him for all he has done and all he has meant to the people of the parish. He leaves behind him, churches and people, touched by the sincerity of his ministry and his ability to see what needs to be done and then to do it in a quiet but effective way.
As a priest of the parish, I will miss Fr John very much. He has been a constant and certain support. I ask him and you, the people of this parish, to pray, that together with the Pastoral Council and the many people who volunteer their time in our parish, I may be able to respond to the needs of the parish as we face a changing but necessary future.