Pope Francis in his homily on Pentecost Sunday reminds us that the Holy Spirit “does not mould isolated individuals, but shapes us into a Church in the wide variety of our charisms, into a unity that is never uniformity.” Since coming to the Diocese last August, I can see how the Spirit has blessed the people, deacons, religious, and priests of our Diocese with a variety of charisms. This is a source of great hope for the life and mission of the Church.
As we “walk together” as a community of disciples in Achonry, we are entering a time of discernment that will help us discover where the Lord is calling us. The fundamental question is: how do we share the Gospel message of Jesus Christ in this changed and changing time? In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis reminds us that: “Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says: ‘We have always done it this way.’ I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities.” (33) I hope we can be courageous enough to face this challenge posed by Pope Francis to be “bold and creative” in our approach. This is something I will be encouraging in the coming months and years in our Diocese as the Irish Church embarks upon its synodal pathway.
As we reflect upon the bigger questions that face us as a Diocese, there are the day to day needs that require careful attention. The appointment of priests is central to this. As this is my first year as Bishop and conscious of the bigger questions we will need to look at in our planning for the future, I am making the minimum number of clergy changes this year. These changes are as follows:
Fr. Vincent Sherlock PP, Kilmovee, to be PP of Tubbercurry.
Fr. Joseph Gavigan PP, Ballaghaderreen, to be PP of Kilmovee.
Fr. Paul Kivlehan CC, Cathedral Parish, Ballaghaderreen, to be Administrator, Cathedral Parish, Ballaghaderreen.
The appointments begin on the 15th August 2021, the Feast of the Assumption.
I express my deep gratitude to Fr. Vincent, Fr. Joe and Fr. Paul for their service and generosity. I know from my own experience it is not easy to change parish or role. I wish them every blessing and encouragement in their new appointments. I express my thanks to the people of Tubbercurry Parish for their patience in awaiting the appointment of a new Parish Priest. I also thank most sincerely Fr. Peter Gallagher and Fr. Dan O’Mahony for looking after Tubbercurry Parish in the absence of a Parish Priest.
When the new appointments begin in August, we will have one priest per parish. In addition, we have some retired priests and those involved in education who so generously help out and provide cover, for this I am deeply grateful. The Cathedral Parish of Ballaghaderreen will be served by one priest, having had three a few years ago. This will involve changes to schedules that I hope parishioners can understand.
Pope Francis’ in his homily on Pentecost Sunday reminded us that the Spirit protects us “against the temptation to let ourselves be paralyzed by rancour or memories of the past, or by uncertainty or fear about the future.” The present moment is where the Spirit has called us to be. We do not need to be fearful about the future as there are opportunities at this time to renew the life of the Church in Achonry and we know in faith that the Spirit always provides. In the light of this I ask that we continue to encourage and pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life and for the vocation of the lay faithful that we would be generous in responding to the Lord’s call to “go out into the deep” (Lk.5:4).
With kind regards and every blessing,
Bishop Paul Dempsey
Bishop of Achonry