Clonfert and Galway uniting

My native diocese, Clonfert, is being joined up with Galway, with one bishop in charge of both. We are told it is not an amalgamation, or that the smaller diocese is not being subsumed into the larger one. Instead, we are assured that both dioceses will retain their diocesan structures. I am not sure what exactly that means. Both cathedrals will retain their status, we are told, with all the structures that surround cathedrals, chapters, councils, etc.

My native parish, Killtulla/Killimordaly, is in a rural part of Clonfert diocese. There is also a third small church in the parish.

In my youth we attended Sunday Mass, and other devotions, in Killimordaly church. My memory is of a full church for most, if not all events. We had a curate, Fr. Hawkins, in our end of the parish. I recall large crowds gathered outside the church, on the bridge over the river, after Mass to listen to political speeches, or other occasions. It played a big part in my youth.

Recently I fulfilled my sister’s final wishes by having her ashes buried in our parents grave behind the church. There is now only one priest in the parish, Fr. Martin McNamara, and he is well past retirement age, but he continues on, doing the best he can, and he deserves great credit for that. But there is now only one Mass every month in Killimordaly church, on a Saturday evening. I am told the attendance at that Mass is very small.

From what I am told, this is typical of what is happening all around the small diocese of Clonfert, elderly priests doing their best to keep the show on the road as attendance at church has collapsed. 

(Incidentally, I could name three or four, men and women, who would make excellent leaders of the Christian community in my native place, and would bring new energy and life into the Eucharistic celebrations, which is impossible for Fr. Martin at this stage in his life. Indeed it is very unfair to be still asking him to do what he is doing.}

I wonder who was consulted in the making of this recent decision about bringing the two dioceses together, or was anybody outside the nuncio and the bishops. There certainly wasn’t any effort to get the views of the people.

Some consultation is being promised now, but I can’t see much point in that when the decision has already been made. At a time when the Church is launching a major Synodal process, to make a decision like this without any apparent consultation, is surely neither wise nor good practice.

And why the emphasis on keeping all the structures of both dioceses in place at a time when the problems facing the Church are enormous, and when it would seem that less structures, rather than more, are the way to go.

I think it would have been important, before any decision like this was made, to have some form of gatherings of the people, at which some basic questions about the current reality by asked. Why has church attendance declined so dramatically? Why are there so few priests? Why is the Church lacking credibility? What exactly should be the role of a bishop in this present time, and how can that person give strong and coherent leadership in facing the many problems.

Having done all that, then people might be in a better position to make decisions about the future of both dioceses, and about the type of leadership needed right now. 

The way these decisions are being made right now seem to me to be very inadequate.