Known as Peter to parishioners, Fr Piotr one of 100 foreign priests in ministry here
IT WAS not the type of ministry he expected to be doing when he landed here, but Polish priest Fr Piotr Delimat is now running a Kerry parish.
Fr Piotr (36) or Fr Peter, as he's known in Ballybunion, is "on loan" from the Archdiocese of Krakow.
He initially came to Ireland expecting to be working as a chaplain to the Polish community in a bigger town - but instead was asked to take up the duties of Fr Noel Spring, parish priest of Ballybunion, for the next few months.
His appointment reflects the challenges being faced by dioceses to secure priests.
He is one of an estimated 100 foreign priests who are now ministering in Ireland on a full-time, permanent basis, as dioceses here grapple with falling vocations and a shortage of priests.
A spokesperson for the Diocese of Kerry confirmed Fr Piotr was only on loan for three years. She also confirmed he was the only foreign national priest who was ministering in the diocese, as a Kenyan priest who previously served had returned home.
A spokesman for the Congregation of Bishops said the individual dioceses had autonomy in the day-to-day running of their affairs, as did the various orders, so it was not known how many foreign priests are working here, though it was estimated that there are fewer than 100.
He added: "There are over 60 chaplains, all Catholic priests, who are ministering to various Catholic communities who have come from abroad to live in Ireland."
The chaplains are from many different nationalities, including Polish, Brazilian, Chinese, Romanian, Slovak, Filipino, Lithuanian, Latvian, Italian, and Ukrainian, as well as the Syro-Malankara and Syro-Malabar communities in Syria.
Fr Piotr was introduced to his new parishioners at Sunday masses in Ballybunion last weekend, where he received a warm welcome.
"I've only been here a week so it's too early to say but so far, so good," he told the Irish Independent. "When I came here first I thought it would be to work with the Polish community but then the Bishop asked me to come to Ballybunion and I was happy to serve where I was needed."