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Covid-19 and Level 3

Bishop Paul issued the following statement as our Diocese, with the rest of Ireland, enters LEVEL 3 in the continuing effort to curb the spread and impact of Covid-19.

As we continue to battle with COVID 19, the Government has now advised that we move to Level 3 as a way to slow the spread of the virus.  This is not easy for any of us.  I am particularly conscious of families who were preparing for First Holy Communions and Confirmations over the coming weeks, no doubt there is huge disappointment.  As I journeyed around the Diocese in recent weeks I saw the major effort that has been made in our parishes to enable the celebration of public Masses.  Teams of people stewarding and sanitising to ensure our places of worship were safe for everyone.  This effort is so much appreciated and I thank all who were so generous in giving of their time.  Sadly, we now have to return to online Masses for the next three weeks. 

Most of us are weary with the way life is at the moment as we continue our struggle with COVID 19 and long to get back to normal life.  However, we must continue to support one another and encourage one another during these difficult days.  Over the past number of months, so many positive things have happened and the goodness of people has shone through.  We must remember that many things are not “locked down”…  Sunshine is not locked down, family time is not locked down, friendship is not locked down, prayer is not locked down, creativity is not locked down, hobbies are not locked down, goodness is not locked down, love is not locked down and hope is not locked down! 

So let’s focus on these positives and keep our hearts alive with hope as we continue this journey together.  Let’s continue to pray for each other and those who are in special need of our prayer at this time.

Every blessing and good wish,

+ Paul 

Tuesday October 6th, 2020

Fratelli Tutti

Pope’s Encyclical on Fraternity and Social Friendship

Pope Francis signed his new encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, on Saturday 3 October 2020 during a visit to Assisi. The Holy Father celebrated Mass at the tomb of his namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi. “Fratelli tutti,” the encyclical’s opening words, means “All brothers” in Italian. The phrase is taken from the writings of St. Francis, one of the major inspirations for Pope Francis’ third encyclical, on fraternity and social friendship. The full text of the encyclical, the third of Pope Francis’ pontificate is released today, Sunday 4 October, the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. 

Please see below the full text of the encyclical letter and some useful links and resources: 

  1. Text of Fratelli Tutti
  2. An overview of the Encyclical FRATELLI TUTTI
  3. Quick Key Guide to reading FRATELLI TUTTI
  4. Questions and Answers on FRATELLI TUTTI

Job Advertisement – Data Protection Officer

Data Protection Officer

Dioceses of the Western Province

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Job Title:     Data Protection Officer

Job Duration:     3 year Fixed Term Contract (Part-time – 20 hrs)

Job Location:   Principal Location will be agreed with the successful applicant

Role will involve working at various locations in the West, the Midlands and North-West of Ireland

Remuneration:  Negotiable

Line Manager  Bishop Kevin Doran (Elphin)

Reports Functionally to:   Each Diocesan Bishop (Ordinary)  


The purpose of this role is to assist the eight participating Dioceses and their constituent parishes and agencies in achieving compliance with the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). These Dioceses are Tuam, Galway, Elphin, Killala, Achonry and Clonfert, Kilmore, Ardagh & Clonmacnoise). The Catholic Church recognises that good pastoral care and respect for the dignity of every person requires that personal data should be sourced, stored, processed and eventually disposed of in an appropriate manner and welcomes the essential principles underlying the GDPR


The DPO will report directly to Bishop Kevin Doran and functionally to each Diocesan Bishop, and will work closely with key Diocesan Personnel in each Diocese. 

The DPO for the Western Province will:

1.  Oversee the Development of Policy

  • Work to the existing joint Data Protection Policy, as approved by the Ordinaries of the six Dioceses of the Province
  • Ensure that constituent entities are aware of the policy
  • oversee the regular updating of the joint policy in accordance with periodic changes in legislation 
  • familiarize him- or herself with the nature of the Church’s activity in the Dioceses concerned and identify the particular challenges which are likely to arise in the implementation of the GDPR

2.Communicate the Requirements of GDPR:

  • develop a communications strategy which will ensure that key personnel are aware of the GDPR and its key principles
  • provide on-going education and support in the implementation of GDPR for bishops, clergy and lay personnel, both employed staff and volunteers
  • advise on specific challenges experienced by data controllers

3.  Implement an Internal Audit Mechanism

  • Further develop and fine-tune the existing internal audit system, which will allow the DPO to verify 
    • that personal records in hard copy and in electronic format are appropriately managed, retained and disposed of 
    • that equipment used for the storage and transfer of data is appropriately secured
    • that access to sacramental registers is appropriately managed and that they are appropriately stored
    • that appropriate information and guidance in respect of web-cams and other equipment for recording or live transmission is readily available for Church personnel and for the public
    • inspect logs of processing activities
  • The above process will integrate periodic site visits with the periodic completion of self-audit by all entities

4.  Management of GDPR Requests and Concerns

  • serve as a liaison person on behalf of the participating Dioceses with the Regulatory Authority (Data Protection Commission )
  • make such reports on behalf of Dioceses or Parishes as may be required from time to time regarding personal data breaches
  • advise Church personnel on the timely, efficient and appropriate management of requests for personal data

The above contains the main outline of duties. However it is inevitable that tasks may arise which do not fall within the remit of the above list of main duties. Employees are therefore required to respond with a flexible approach when ad hoc tasks arise which are not specifically covered in their job description. Should an additional responsibility become a regular part of an employee’s job, the Job Description will be amended to reflect this.


The Data Protection Officer will be expected to sign a confidentiality agreement. He / she will be required to observe appropriate confidentiality in respect of all data to which he / she become privy arising out of this employment. While he / she will be employed by all the participating Dioceses collectively, the commitment to confidentiality refers to the data of each Diocese individually.


Knowledge (Qualifications & Related Experience):

  • Expertise in the area of EU data protection law
  • A good understanding of the way the Catholic Church operates, with particular regard to its personal data processing activities; and
  • An ability to interpret relevant data protection rules in that context
  • A familiarity with the provisions of Canon Law in relation to the gathering, retention and disposal of data
  • A good working knowledge of current software used in data processing and storage (including Excel, Access, Parish Registration systems and Cloud-based storage systems); 

Key Behaviours:

  • Personal skills including integrity, initiative, organisation, perseverance, discretion, ability to assert himself/herself in difficult circumstances, an interest in data protection and the personal and professional motivation to be a DPO; and
  • Interpersonal skills including communication, negotiation, conflict resolution and the ability to build strong, constructive working relationships

•Knowledge of the ethos, management structures and practices of the Catholic Church

  • Strong communication skills both verbal and written;
  • Excellent planning and organisational skills – due to the out of office requirements of this role, a high level of personal organisation is expected;
  • Full clean Driving Licence and the use of a car is required.



  • Diocesan Bishops, 
  • All Church personnel, lay or ordained, who control personal data


  • Data Protection Commissioner


Interested persons are asked to click ‘Apply Now’ with the below:

  1. A detailed CV tailored to the position including telephone and email contact details;
  2. The names, addresses and contact telephone numbers of three referees;
  3. A cover letter to the assessment panel communicating in less than two hundred words why you think you are suited to this post.

Closing Date: 23rd October 2020


Organisation, Communication, InitiativeRef: AUTO-202010021236264169Apply Now   


Bishop Paul has begun a journey of visitation of the parishes of the diocese. He has chosen to visit various parishes and to join in the celebration of Daily and Weekend Masses with the priest and people of the parishes. This is a wonderful opportunity for him to meet with the people and for them to meet with their new bishop.

So far Bishop Paul has celebrated Masses in Ballaghaderreen, Carracastle, Charlestown, Collooney Keash, Tourlestrane, Tubbercurry, Attymass, Bohola, Swinford, Kilmovee and Ballisodare (where he administered the Sacrament of Confirmation) and his journey continues.

God bless the journey.

Chrism Mass

On Thursday, September 10th, Bishop Paul celebrated his first Chrism Mass in the Cathedral of The Annunciation and St Nathy, Ballaghaderreen. Gathered with priests, deacons and parish representatives from around the diocese, he blessed the Oil of Catechumens, the Oil of The Sick and consecrated Chrism. The oils were carried by three priests of the diocese: Frs John Maloney and Gerard Davey both celebrating their Silver Jubilee of Ordination this year and by Fr Peter Gallagher, celebrating his Ruby Jubilee this year.

Music was provided by the Cathedral Folk Group and the Word of God was proclaimed by parishioners of the diocese.

Consecration of Sacred Chrism Diocese of Achonry

Bishop Paul consecrates the Chrism at his first Chrism Mass in the Cathedral of the Annunciation and St Nathy on Thursday evening. #ChrismMass

Posted by Diocese of Achonry on Thursday, 10 September 2020

In his homily, Bishop Paul reminded priests gathered of Christ’s words: “You did not choose me, I chose you” and asked them to recall two key moments from their Ordination Days – the moment they lay prostrate on the ground as the Litany Of Saints was prayed over and for them and the moment the bishop laid his hands on their heads.

Homily Text

For the priests present this evening, I want you to take a journey back to your ordination day.  Maybe it was many years ago or, for a few of us, it might have been in more recent years.  We can probably remember those who were there, family, friends, parishioners.  I’m sure there was a palpable sense of excitement, but also perhaps some fear and anxiety.  There are many special moments during the Ordination Rite, tonight I want to refer to two of them.

The first moment was when you lay prostrate before the altar.  Can you remember it?  You lay there, and as you did the Litany of the Saints was sung.  These saints, down through the centuries who themselves heard the call of Christ in their hearts, each one of them was being called upon to pray for you.  Praying that you would respond to Christ.  Those saints praying that within your heart you would hear the call of Christ; ”You did not chose me, no, I chose you.”  They were praying that you, with your gifts and your brokenness, would be a faithful disciple.  You lay there before the altar, the symbolic gesture of surrender.  Surrender to Christ and His plan for your life

In the moments after the litany, you rose up from the ground, in preparation for the second moment I wish to refer to tonight, the laying on of hands.  As the bishop placed his hands upon your head you were configured to Christ, forever changed in the depth of your being.  In this moment it was Christ himself placing His hands upon your head.  In this gesture He was saying; you belong to me, you are under my protection, I hold you in the palm of my hand.  As I extend my hands over you, I ask that you give me your hands to do my work of service and of sanctifying.

These two moments; the laying prostrate before the altar and the laying on of hands are important moments for us to return to in the priesthood.  They remind us of the heart of what we are about as priests.  It is so important to return to those moments especially when expectations weigh heavily upon us and there are many;

You are expected to be great with the young people, you are to have a word for everyone.  You’re expected to be a great preacher, being able to reach out to those who are seldom at church while at the same time able to keep the more traditional parishioners happy.  Then there’s the finances, the Data Protection and Safeguarding procedures that all have to be in place and up to date.  You are to have a flourishing Pastoral Council, you are always expected to be in good form and to be visionary while also conscious that people don’t like change.  You are to be on top of things, ready to be there at an impending death while at the same time planning a baptism for first time parents, a great man with the sick, great at visiting houses, but not too imposing, great at organising the parish and the volunteers to satisfy the challenges of Covid 19 and the reduced numbers and sanitisation of the churches, the list goes on…

As the memories of the ordination rite fade over the years and the reality of life in the priesthood becomes more real with all of its expectations, it can be very real to ask the question; “Is it worth it?”  When that question arises, return to the moment you lay on the floor of your church, return to the moment the Lord laid His hands upon your head…  He called you to be His priest, he called you to be His disciple not just in that moment as you lay on the floor or the hands were imposed upon you.  He calls you to be his priest now, in this very moment!  He calls you as much today as he did on your ordination day.  “You did not chose me, no, I chose you!”

How important it is to root ourselves in that call at this time.  The reality is that we find ourselves at a critical moment, change is inevitable.  The cliché reminds us that there are two options around change, do we fear it or embrace it?  As we face the future, we must remember that the Lord who called us, whom we surrendered to on the day of our ordination, the Lord who placed His hands upon our head, that same Lord is calling us now!  The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me, be open to that Spirit!

Pope Francis leads us on this path and encourages us not to be afraid.  He issues and invitation to us in Evangelii Gaudium;

“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.” EG 33.

In the spirit of Pope Francis, let us be bold and creative in the task given to us by the Lord.  In the coming months let us discern where the Lord may be calling us as His family in Achonry.  What are the possibilities and opportunities He is offering us as priests and people? 

So, is it worth it?  Yes it is!  As we lay prostrate before the altar on the day of our ordination, we were making the statement with our very bodies saying, we believe in Him, we trust in Him, we depend upon Him, we love Him.  Let’s renew that belief, that trust, that dependence, that love this night… 

“You did not chose me, no, I chose you.”

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