Pressure is mounting on Bishop of Kerry Dr Ray Browne to retain a priest in one of the biggest Catholic parishes in the country. The parish of Kilcummin is in the pastoral area of Killarney along with Killarney town and the parishes of Fossa, Glenflesk, and Firies.
The Kerry diocese, which includes parts of north and west Cork, has been divided into 12 pastoral areas, along the lines of the old deaneries. A shortage of priests in the diocese means most priests work beyond retirement age, and as many as eight of the 53 parishes in the diocese will now be without resident priests after the changes expected to be finalised at the weekend.
Two years ago, a ban on Sunday funerals came into force to ease the strain on the priests, many of whom are working well beyond retirement age. Other parishes to lose priests include Valentia Island. Up until this, the parishes left without priests have largely accepted their loss.
However Kilcummin, which is the second biggest in the Diocese of Kerry in terms of area, and is also one of the most populous, has said it will not agree to be left without a priest, and residents have started a campaign called “Save our Parish: Save our Priest”.
Local man Pat O’Sullivan said Kilcummin is devastated by the news their popular priest, Fr Eamon Mulvihill who was appointed in 2017, is to move. Mr O’Sullivan has warned the diocese will lose a lot of revenue if there is no parish priest.
“This priest has brought people back to Mass, and the proof is there in our collections. There will be a huge loss of revenue,” Mr O’Sullivan told The Kerryman.
The diocese will be issuing the full list of changes at the weekend, and Castlemaine in the Killorglin pastoral area is expected also to lose its resident priest.