Bishop of Killaloe Dr Willie Walsh has announced the re-organisation of the nine parishes included in the West Clare cluster of parishes. Four parish priests will now be responsible for two parishes each.
The changes will be in place from November 1 next. Part of the reason behind the changes result from the retirement of three West Clare parish priests; Fr Joe Haugh (Doonbeg), Fr Pat Culligan (Carrigaholt) and Fr Pat Carmody (Cooraclare). However, all three will now serve as assistant priests in two parishes apiece.
A number of current parish priests including Fr Michael Sheedy, Fr Gerry Kenny, Fr Michael Casey and Fr John Kelly will now become parish priests of two full parishes rather than just one. Kilmihil parish priest Fr Peter O’Loughlin will now work as assistant priest in Cooraclare as well.
Fr Michael Collins, who will serve as curate in Kilrush and Killimer will also serve as moderator of the West Clare cluster of parishes. From now on, this cluster will be known as the Inis Chathaigh Cluster. Maureen Kelly will continue in her role as full-time pastoral worker in the Inis Chathaigh cluster.
To facilitate the changes, two mini-clusters of parishes will replace the present arrangement of three groups of three. The parishes of Cross, Carrigaholt, Kilkee and Doonbeg will form one working group while Kilmihil, Kilmurry McMahon, Killimer, Kilrush and Cooraclare will form a second local working group. These working groups will help to make the work of the cluster more effective at local level.
The changes arise from the recent retirements of three parish priests in the area, the appointment of a full-time pastoral worker to serve these parishes and from the reality that there is no longer a supply of priests to replace those who have retired. The clustering or gathering together of parishes in co-operative units has been taking place throughout the diocese since 2003 and is being modified in each area to take particular account of the needs of that area.
“I am conscious that one parish (Killimer) within the cluster has no resident priest and there is a need to ease the burden of work on those priests, who have reached retirement age, after more than 50 years of loyal and generous priesthood,” Bishop Walsh commented.
“It is really unthinkable that any faith community should feel alone or that those who carry a heavy workload should be without support,” he added.
The following are the changes in full: Fr Gerry Kenny parish priest Kilkee and Doonbeg; Fr Joe Haugh, assistant priest, Kilkee and Doonbeg; Fr Michael Sheedy, parish priest, Kilrush and Killimer. Fr Michael Collins CC, Kilrush and Killimer; Fr Michael Casey, parish priest, Cross and Carrigaholt; Fr Paddy Culligan, assistant priest, Cross and Carrigaholt, Fr John Kelly, parish priest, Kilmurry McMahon and Cooraclare; Fr Pat Carmody, assistant priest, Kilmurry McMahon and Cooraclare; Fr Peter O’Loughlin, parish priest, Kilmihil and assistant priest, Cooraclare; Maureen Kelly full-time pastoral worker, Inis Chathaigh Cluster and Fr Michael Collins, moderator, Inis Chathaigh Cluster.