Time has been called on a weekly Mass exclusively for men.
Disappointed lifelong members of a religious order in Limerick claimed they have been “relegated to the second division”.
They will now have to join with women for a Monday night Mass.
[timgcap=At the last mass were Ger O'Brien, Brian O'Brien, Sean O'Brien, Martin Reddan, Tommy Lynch, Dick O'Connor, John Fitzgerald, Mike Doyle.]LastMaleOnlyMassLimerickJul17_large.jpg[/timg]
For the past 150 years, women have been turned away from attending the service for members of the Archconfraternity of the Redemptorist Order in Limerick. Sean O’Lochrain, 90, from Garryowen, and a minister of the Eucharist, said he has been left “heartbroken” by the move.
“It’s very sad. I’ve been coming here all my life, with my father and nine brothers. I’m heartbroken, really,” he said.
Tim McGrath, from Corbally, said: “Our Mass has been taken away from us.
“Our Monday evening Mass was our space and we wanted the status quo to remain.
“It’s a sad situation and very disappointing.”
The Archconfraternity, he said, felt “we’ve been relegated to the second division, to shared Mass status”.
“We were not given an opportunity to discuss this — there was no debate, no vote, nothing,” said Mr McGrath. “The majority don’t want any change.
“What a lovely present for our 150th anniversary.”
Up to 60 men have, in recent times, regularly attended the 8pm Monday Mass, down from thousands each night at its religious zenith.
Fr Seamus Enright, rector of the Redemptorists, said the move is “sad, but we have to be realistic”.
While having a Mass just for men “could be viewed as a bit anachronistic in this modern age”, he said, the rector also acknowledged: “For many people, it has proved to be a big break with tradition and a disruption in their lives.”
This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner