Funeral masses on Sundays will not be held in the Kerry diocese from September 1, due to a shortage of priests.
Bishop of Kerry Ray Browne has informed the diocese’s pastoral councils of his decision which was not unexpected.
Currently, five of the 53 parishes in the diocese, which also encompasses parts of west and north Cork, have no resident priests.
Only 48 priests below the age of retirement, 75, are involved in parish ministry, a spokeswoman confirmed.
Eleven priests are in their 70s, five are under 50, and one is under 40. There are also four non-diocesan priests involved in parish ministry.
The new regulation will, however, permit the removal of remains on Saturday and Sunday evenings.
The new regulation with regard to funeral Masses, which comes into effect in September — removals will be allowed on Saturday and Sunday evenings — are because of the shortage of priests and individual parish factors, Bishop Browne said.
For several years, the diocese has been preparing for a situation where there will be fewer priests involved in parish ministry.
“A key priority is the resourcing the laity to take up roles of responsibility,” a spokeswoman said recently.
Courses are delivered each year in the area of pastoral ministry and youth ministry.
Five parishes no longer have a resident priest and they are Duagh, Tarbert, Ballyheigue, Valentia Island, and Allihies.
The parishes in the diocese are divided into 12 pastoral areas.
“The reason for this is to encourage cooperation and communication between parishes,” a spokesperson said.
“In the situation where a parish no longer has a resident priest, the clergy within the pastoral area take responsibility for ministry in that parish.”
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