Training of layman for ministry reignites church row
A CATHOLIC diocese is embroiled in a row over the training of a layman for the permanent diaconate, despite a bishop's announcement that plans to train men for the ministry were being suspended.
A group who became known as the 'Women of Killaloe' had highlighted that a male-only diaconate ministry was not in fact needed, as everything a deacon could do could also be done by a lay person.
An announcement was made last September by the then Bishop of Killaloe, Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly, who is now one of the four most senior prelates in the Irish church.
In a letter read out in parishes across the diocese, he pledged that he would not go ahead with the introduction of the male-only permanent diaconate.
But it now has emerged that one layman from Killaloe had already completed his preparatory year for the ministry even before the bishop invited applications training in August 2014.
Furthermore, the diocese has admitted to the Irish Independent that the same man has continued to participate on the first year of the diaconate formation programme along with other 13 other candidates from the dioceses of Cloyne, Waterford & Lismore, Cork & Ross and Kerry.
This is despite Archbishop O'Reilly's announcement that the training plans were being set aside.
Killaloe spokesman Fr Brendan Quinlivan said prior to the publication of Bishop O'Reilly's pastoral letter inviting people to consider training as deacons, "One candidate had begun the process of discernment and participated on a pilot basis in the preparatory course."
Fr Quinlivan admitted that by the time Bishop O'Reilly decided to suspend the process, the candidate was already registered to participate in the next stage of the formation programme.
But Kathleen MacDonnell, a member of the Women of Killaloe's forum, said she was "dismayed and shocked".
"The fact that they had already allowed someone to pursue diaconate studies before the official invitation was issued is very worrying," she said.
"Especially in the context of the process that was happening in our diocese in relation to the launch of the diocesan pastoral plan."