- Pastoral Letter to the people of the parishes of Aughnamullen East, Ballybay, Clontibret and Muckno
Bishop Larry Duffy has announced the following clerical appointments in the Diocese of Clogher, will take effect from Wednesday 1 September 2021:
- Very Rev Paudge McDonnell PP, Clontibret to be PE Clontibret
- Very Rev Adrian Walshe PP Castleblayney (Muckno) and PP Aughnamullen East to be also PP Clontibret.
- Rev Seán Mulligan CC, Carrickmacross to be CC Fintona (Donacavey)
- Rev Kevin Connolly CC Fintona (Donacavey) to be CC Carrickmacross.
- Very Rev Canon Pat McHugh to be Diocesan Director of the Synodal Pathway
I thank the priests who are taking up new appointments and pray God’s blessings on them. A special thank you to those priests who have retired since last year, all of whom have given many years of service. Each retirement reduces the number of priests available to serve and increases the workload on those who remain. I thank each priest and our deacon for their generous and dedicated service. On the positive side, a number of men are discerning and in formation for priesthood and the permanent diaconate.
Like the rest of the Church in Ireland, we are embarking on a new journey – a Synodal Pathway – over the coming years. The appointment of a Diocesan Director for this is a welcome first step. This synodal pathway will be a period of prayerful reflection on what God is calling his Church to be at this point in time and into the future. We will ask the Holy Spirit to guide us, as Jesus tells us today, ‘it is the Spirit that gives life’ (John 6: 63).
This year’s changes see a significant change for the Parish of Clontibret and some of the other parishes in the Mid-Monaghan area. I thank the priests in that area in a particular way for their positive and visionary approach to this new situation. This weekend, I address a Pastoral Letter to the people of those parishes (see text below). The realities which have hit these parishes in recent months will inevitably come to other places in the times ahead. All of this reinforces the call to prayerful reflection about the future.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to be witnesses to his Word through our actions in the world and in the Church. How do I use my gifts? Is there a gift that I have which could be of use to the local parish community? Could I be more active in ministry – lay or ordained? Recently, Pope Francis has opened up several ministries to both men and women – lector, acolyte and catechist. To those we can add areas of parish life such as sacramental preparation, funerals teams, baptism teams, liturgy teams etc. The pathway ahead must surely open up real possibilities for people to lead the community in prayer and in action. At the same time, let us continue to pray and work for vocations to priesthood, the permanent diaconate, the religious life and lay ministry. We are all called to work in the vineyard of the Lord.
Like Simon Peter in this Sunday’s Gospel reading, let us declare our faith in the Lord who truly guides us on the right path. ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we have come to know that you are the Holy One of God’ (John 6: 68-69).
I ask for your prayers for the priests included in these changes, that the Lord will bless them and guide them in their new roles and places. And please continue to pray for me.
Pastoral Letter to the people of the parishes of Aughnamullen East, Ballybay, Clontibret and Muckno
My Dear Parishioners,
The last 18 months have brought about a lot of change; few places more so than the Parish of Clontibret. It has seen the retirement of Father Lorcan Lynch and Canon Phil Connolly after nearly 120 years of service between them. Thank you, Fathers, for your generosity of service. The Parish Priest, Father Paudge McDonnell, who was soon to reach retirement age has experienced health difficulties and is presently recuperating. We wish him a quick return to full health and thank him for his 17 years of dedicated service as Parish Priest. Also retired in the Mid-Monaghan area is Monsignor Gerry McSorley, former Parish Priest of Tullycorbet, whom we thank for his 67 years of service.
The situation in the Parish of Clontibret turns the spotlight on the shortage of clergy. Today in the Diocese of Clogher almost 25 (about 50%) of our priests are over the age of 65 and it will be a number of years before the next man is ordained. This shortage will involve change – in fact, major change. On the one hand it calls on us to work and pray for vocations to the priesthood, the permanent diaconate and religious life. It also challenges the faithful to take greater responsibility for the parish. We might ask ourselves: ‘what gift have I that if offered would bless the parish?’ One obvious way to make a significant contribution is to consider the Permanent Diaconate – an ordained ministry of service in the Church. Another way of service will be through various parish committees covering areas such as liturgy, safeguarding, finance and property as well as groups promoting the Church’s mission in the areas of family life, education, ecumenism, social justice or the environment.
I have asked Father Adrian Walshe, the Parish Priest of Castleblayney (Muckno) and of Aughnamullen East, to take on the additional role as Parish Priest of Clontibret from 1 September. I thank him together with the priests serving in the parishes of Muckno, Ballybay (Tullycorbet) and Aughnamullen East – Father Stephen Duffy, Canon Owen Joe McEneaney and Father Owen Gorman, respectively – for stepping forward at this critical time to form a united team to serve the Parish of Clontibret together with the other 3 parishes, all working together in the delivery of pastoral ministry to Christ’s people. I also thank Father PJ McGinnity, retired from ministry in Knoxville, USA, and presently residing in Ballybay, who is always so willing to offer a helping hand.
I want to emphasise that each parish will retain its own identity and will be responsible for its own finances. At the same time, I encourage people, once we exit the Covid restrictions, to feel free and welcome to attend Mass or any other liturgy or prayer moment in any of the churches across the parishes. All our churches will be in use; no church will be closed.
I know you will join me in recognising that these priests already carry a heavy burden, and that this extra work and responsibility will affect ministry across the parishes. I particularly ask for understanding and support, especially in the arranging of Mass times, funerals and baptisms. The parish office in Castleblayney will provide administrative support and will be the contact point for the booking of Masses and other events for Clontibret Parish as well as for any emergencies.
As I said at the outset, we live in changing times and our Church is no different. Our mission is to make the Gospel of Jesus Christ known to all and to be a beacon of love and hope in the world through our life of faith. Jesus remains among us ‘as one who serves’ (Luke 22:27). That service to God the Father is replicated in the various ministries and in our participation in the life of the Church. My hope is that these changes – which will also be a feature of life in other places in the near future – may, over time, increase participation in that life of faith among lay people and lead to a time of renewal for everyone.
Finally, I ask you to continue to support and pray for our priests, for those discerning life in ministry and for me in my ministry as Bishop of Clogher.
Like Simon Peter in today’s Gospel, let us declare anew our faith in the Lord who truly guides us on the right path. ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we have come to know that you are the Holy One of God’ (John 6: 68-69).
Yours in Christ,
+ Larry Duffy,
Bishop of Clogher
Notes for Editors
- The Diocese of Clogher encompasses all of County Monaghan, virtually all of County Fermanagh and portions of Counties Tyrone, Donegal, Louth and Cavan. There are 37 parishes and 85 churches, served by 53 priests and 1 deacon. The Catholic population of the diocese is approximately 88,000. Bishop Larry Duffy is the Bishop of Clogher and the Cathedral church is St Macartan’s Cathedral in Monaghan town.
For further information:
Dr Gary Carville
Director of Communications,
Diocese of Clogher,
Monaghan H18 PN35.
Tel 00353 47 81019; Mobile 00353 87 1767226 Email [email protected]