Kilcummin parishioners boycott church collection over loss of priest

Sinead Kelleher

Many of Kilcummin's parishioners have vowed to continue their boycott of the church collection over the loss of their resident parish priest in the Diocesan changes announced in recent weeks. 

As the second largest parish in Kerry Kilcummin is now to be left without any parish priest in a move that has angered the local community.   In total there are now eight parishes out of 53 in Kerry without a resident priest - Kilcummin and Castlemaine are the two newest parishes to have no priest. 

Such is the strength of feeling in the parish that up to 200 people attended a public meeting on Friday to discuss the loss of their resident priest, Fr Eamon Mulvihill. 

More than 1,000 people have signed a petition calling on the Diocese of Kerry to ensure that parish retains a resident priest and signatures are still being collected this week. 

A decision was also taken to boycott the church collection over the decision by the Bishop of Kerry to show the 'disappointment' and 'anger' of parishioners.  

The collection boxes were handed out at mass on Saturday night in Kilcummin and at one of the masses on Sunday but parishioners chose not to put money in them to show their anger and upset at the treatment of the parish by Bishop Ray Browne. 

In the region of €1,800 was collected in the parish over a week ago but last weekend this dropped to just a few hundred euro. 

"The collection was very very small. The boxes were handed out and it is up to everyone to make their own decision," explained local parishioner, Pat O'Sullivan. "We will continue this boycott the boxes will be handed up but everyone can decide what to do."

He said that the parish have a lot of queries including why they had to lose a priest when smaller parishes in Kerry did not lose theirs. 

They have also called on the Bishop of Kerry to explain why he did not take up the offer by Fr Eamon Mulvihill, who is the resident priest, to look after Kilcummin and Firies - which would have ensured that the parish retained a parish priest - and to explain why the Bishop is providing a priest in Firies where there is no presbytery while the presbytery in Kilcummin will be left lying empty. 

A meeting was to be held in Kilcummin on Tuesday night by the Diocese of Kerry to explain what will happen in the diocese in the future.  

"We are very, very angry and we have  a lot of things to iron out with the Bishop," added Pat. 

Under the Diocesan changes the parish of Kilcummin will be looked after by the parish of Killarney according to Bishop Brown - a solution that parishioners say will not work due to the size of the parish. They believe the decision will 'close the church' and turn young people away from their faith as the parish will have a different priest every week. 

"It won't work from Killarney as that priest will not be able to fulfil their duties. How will they get to the parish in the middle of the night if some-one needs them," said Pat.

"We are 11 miles long and five miles wide and have three schools and two nursing homes and they all need a priest. How will they have a priest from Killarney?".

The diocesan changes, which are due to retirements, come into effect from July 17.