I ask your kind permission to have my letter put in your newspaper. In regard to the recent clerical changes in the Diocese of Dromore. I would like to ask Bishop McAreavey and the Priests of the diocese, why were the laity not involved in the decision of clerical changes? The decision of the Bishop and the Priests to combine certain Parishes is part of the old diocesan structure which says the clergy know best and the laity are not relevant. This traditional mindset is evident in Irish conservative Catholicism and the impression is generated that by combining Parishes around groups of clergy new things will happen but this is quite misleading.
The institutional Church is still very much clerically centred. Parishioners are completely excluded from this process, and from the decisions made and approved by the local Bishop in respect of their Parishes. The laity were living in the Parish before the Priest was appointed and they will continue living in the Parish when the Priest is transferred. The role of Priest and Bishop is to serve the people and not to be lord and master and dictate how local Parish’s should be organised. The Parish of Seagoe outside of Lurgan town has increased in population on recent years as more people from Lurgan have chosen in Derrymacash or Derrytrasna which is only a distance of a few miles. In the recent clerical changes this Parish is now combined with the Parish of Moyraverty in Craigavon where many people from this area do not have any direct connections to each other. St Paul’s Parish in Lurgan town has been combined with St Peter’s Parish in the same town and the Parish Priest is now a full time hospital Chaplin. Considering there is a shortage of priests this role could be filled by a lay Chaplin and assisted by local clergy when required. Too much money is being spent on renovation of buildings and not enough on training the laity. This year we celebrate fifty years since the Second Vatican Council. I suggest Bishop McAreavey and the priests of the Diocese review these documents and put it into practice in their local Parish’s. The important role of the laity is vital for the future of the church as the body of Christ.
Kieran McPartlan and Family.