MASS times are being adjusted so that a team of priests serving the Clonakilty ‘family of parishes’ can manage their schedule in a sustainable way.
‘A key change to the new rota is that parishioners won’t see the same priest in their church every Sunday,’ said Fr Tom Hayes, a spokesperson for the diocese, ‘because they have worked out a timetable, not for individual parishes, but for the area.’
Priests in the Clonakilty family of parishes – Timoleague, Barryroe, Clonakilty, Ardfield/Rathbarry, Rosscarbery and Kilmeen – have agreed that they will move out of their own parish on one weekend of every month.
Fr Hayes said this is necessary because every parish, apart from Clonakilty, has just one parish priest.
Fr Hayes explained that the new rota system will allow priests to take occasional breaks, but in order to make that happen, the group of parishes had to drop its overall schedule.
It will mean that between the six parishes in the Clonakilty area, a total of three masses will be dropped.
Fr Hayes confirmed that one of the three masses that is being discontinued is in Timoleague, plus one in Barryroe, and one in Kilmeen, but in each instance there will be a mass available in another part of the wider family of parishes.
‘The “family of parishes” concept is all about parishes sharing and supporting each other across boundaries,’ said Fr Hayes.
Two weeks ago, Bishop Fintan Gavin confirmed the retirement of four priests and said that the parishes of Ardfield/Rathbarry and Muintir Bháire will no longer have a resident parish priest ministering only in that parish.
Bishop Fintan also announced the appointment of Fr Chris O’Donovan, who was formerly based in Skibbereen, but is originally from Timoleague, to guide the formation of the new families of parishes concept in the diocese.
‘For the foreseeable future,’ he said, ‘more families of parishes will develop in the diocese, whereby a number of parishes will form a bond between them, which sustains the pastoral life of these parishes.’
The new rota starts on the weekend of September 4th and 5th.