Mass is cancelled due to lack of priests
There will be no Mass in a Donegal parish this Sunday morning -- because there are no priests to say it
The congregation in Kilcar has been told parish priest, Fr John Gallagher, is going into hospital and Raphoe Diocese can't supply a stand-in.
The cancellation of all Sunday morning Masses at St Cartha's Church in the coming weeks means parishioners will have to make a 12-mile round trip to attend Mass in either Killybegs or Carrick.
A spokesman for the Bishop of Raphoe, Dr Philip Boyce, said there was an ongoing "crisis" in the low numbers of vocations and hinted at the possible future amalgamation of churches and parishes in Donegal.
"We need to prepare our parishioners and explain to them what will happen in the future, because there are so few new priests being appointed," he said.
"Unfortunately, this type of thing is going to happen more and more. His colleagues are trying to rearrange things so that the people of Kilcar will be able to attend Mass in their local church on a Saturday and Sunday evening," he said.Fr Colm O Gallchoir, the parish priest of neighbouring Killybegs, has agreed to celebrate a Saturday evening Mass in St Cartha's Church while Fr Gerard Cunningham, of Fintown, who is a native of Kilcar, will come "home'' to celebrate a Sunday evening Mass for the next number of weeks.
However, local people have expressed concern at the decision to drop the traditional 11am Sunday Mass.
There are 33 parishes in the Raphoe Diocese, taking in 71 churches and a Catholic population of approximately 79,500. Kilcar, the home town of Bishop of Derry, Dr Seamus Hegarty, is home to an estimated 1,264 Catholics in 437 families.
The number of ordinations for each of the last three years nationally was only eight, reflecting the low number of uptakes of the vocation in the 1990s.
Reasons for the drop in vocations include smaller families, and increased alternative options, while the scandals to hit the Catholic Church also had a devastating effect.