A parish on the edge of the city which began its life as a chapel-of-ease in the Cathedral Parish is once again to form a new bond with its neighbouring parishes.
The solution to its pastoral needs is also to be a template for changes in the diocese in the years ahead.
Bishop Fintan Gavin has written to the parishioners of Clogheen/Kerry Pike Parish to let them know that their parish is to become one of a new family of parishes in the north-side of Cork city.
The letter was also read at Masses in Farranree, Gurranabraher and Knocknaheeny/Hollyhill parishes this past weekend.
The initiative follows the announcement that Archdeacon Liam O’Driscoll has retired as administrator of Clogheen/Kerry Pike Parish.
Bishop Fintan Gavin thanked Archdeacon Liam for his 14 years of ministry in the parish and wished him well as he retires.
Bishop Fintan Gavin explained to parishioners that the diocese does not have enough priests to be able to replace each retiring priest in the diocese.
“This presents the parishes of this area with a challenge that will have to be faced in every area of the diocese in the coming years,” he said.
It is also, Bishop Fintan said “an opportunity for us all to grow in our baptismal responsibility to celebrate and share our faith with one another and beyond.”
Bishop Fintan has asked the parishioners, pastoral councils, parish finance committees and priests in the parishes to build a spirit of shared responsibility for the faith community, including finding new ways of sharing their faith with one another and with others.
“My hope is that your working together as a family of parishes, sharing resources and supporting one another, can serve as a model and inspiration for other parishes in the diocese in the years to come,” he said.
The bishop had earlier held online meetings with lay leaders in Clogheen/Kerry Pike Parish and had meetings with the clergy of the surrounding parishes.
“I met recently with the priests of the parishes of Farranree, Gurranabraher and Knocknaheeny and asked them to work together as a team with shared responsibility for these parishes and Clogheen/Kerry Pike Parish.”
“I am grateful for their generosity in agreeing to do this in order that the pastoral needs of all these parishes can be better met and they will be better able to support one another,” Bishop Fintan wrote.
This is also about a deeper understanding of the relationship between parishioners and priests and one which needs to be nourished.
There are already several examples in our diocese of clergy sharing responsibility for ministry in more than one parish. Until now, it has usually involved two parishes at the time.
This is the first time in the diocese where a larger group of parishes are being asked to come together to share ministry and resources as well as planning together. In this case, the priests will be ministering in four parishes.