A new pastoral area, ‘Imeall na Screige’ has been formed within the Ferns diocese following meetings with representatives from a number of parishes and curacies in the diocese.
In a statement the Communications Officer for the diocese, Fr Ódhran Furlong said that following those meetings it was agreed that the parishes and curacies involved would cooperate pastorally “so that the challenges arising from the very different time we live in now could be adequately addressed”.
“The most obvious challenge to parishioners is the decreasing number of priests, but co-operating pastorally also requires parishes to think of common solutions to developing the spiritual lives of people and their relationship with Christ,” said Fr Furlong.
“As the years go on, the challenge to committed Catholics in our pastoral areas will be to work with others across neighbouring areas to create a welcoming and alive Church,” he added.
He said an early decision for any pastoral area is to devise a name that indicates all the participants are equal and that a new thing has come into being.
The new Pastoral Area, Imeall na Screige, will incorporate the following parishes: Ballygarrett; Kilmuckridge/Monamolin; Blackwater; Oulart/Ballaghkeene and Monageer/Boolavogue.
With regard to the name Fr Furlong said that in searching for a pastorally neutral title for the collective area it was felt that since the grouping contains the historic areas of Oulart and Boolavogue, it would be fitting to give it a title with a historic dimension.
“The famed Oulart Hill (known in Irish as An Screig) is practically in the centre of this geographical area and from the top of the hill one has a splendid view of the territory of all five parishes,” said Fr Furlong.
The Irish language word for edge, border, fringe or outskirts is imeall and Fr Furlong said that “since all of the parishes of the cluster surround and border Oulart Hill, it was agreed that Imeall na Screige would be an apt and neutral title for this newly created entity which incorporates these particular parishes”.
The new Mass schedule is as follows: Saturday (Vigil) Masses at 6 p.m. in Ballygarret, Monageer, and Monamolin; Saturday (Vigil) Masses at 7 p.m. in the Ballagh, Blackwater and Kilmuckridge; Saturday (Vigil) Mass at 8 p.m. in Oulart; Sunday Masses at 10 a.m. in Ballygarrett, Blackwater and Monageer; Sunday Masses at 11 a.m. in Boolavogue, Kilmuckridge and Oulart.
“In this new model of church the shared responsibility for mission, growth and development will lie with the lay members of the parishes together with the Pastoral Councils and Frs Jim Butler, Bill Cosgrave, Frank Murphy, Paddy Browne and Brendan Nolan,” said Fr Furlong.
“As the new journey begins we can say ‘God bless the work’,” he added.