A PLAN to merge two West Cork parishes of the Church of Ireland into one single larger entity – stretching from just west of Skibbereen to the end of the Mizen peninsula – is believed to be currently under consideration.
The two parishes involved are Ballydehob Union, which includes the churches of St. Matthias, Ballydehob and St. Matthew’s, Aughadown, and Kilmoe Union, which includes Holy Trinity Church, Schull, Altar Church, Toormore and St. Brendan the Navigator, Crookhaven.
Consideration of the proposal has been brought to the fore by the recent retirement of Canon Trevor Lester (pictured) who had served as Rector of Kilmoe Union for a number of years. In addition to his normal duties, the Rector of Ballydehob Union, Rev. Stephen McCann has been given primary responsibility for organising services and providing spiritual and pastoral care for parishioners of Kilmore, assisted by retired clergy and lay readers.
The Southern Star understands that not all parishioners in Ballydehob and Kilmoe are in favour of the proposed merger, some having expressed concern that, by reducing the number of clergy from two to one, the physical size and spread-out nature of the proposed enlarged parish could place too great a burden on one single person.
In addition to maintaining the current frequency of services in the five churches involved, and the need to officiate at ceremonies that cannot be predicted, duties will also include diocesan and school management functions along with pastoral responsibility for COI pupils at St. Matthias NS in Ballydehob and those attending Schull Community School, as well as house and hospital visits.