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Major clerical changes see Fr Michael Sheehan on the move

Fr Michael Sheehan, pictured shaking the hand of Prince Charles at St Patrick's Church, is moving on to become the Parish Priest at Drumbo and Carryduff. Picture: Hugh Russell

ONE of Belfast's most prominent priests is to move from his city centre parish.

Fr Michael Sheehan, whose St Patrick's Church on Donegall Street became the focus of bitter division in recent years sparked by a dispute with a loyalist band, is to become the Parish Priest at Drumbo and Carryduff.

During his time at St Patrick's he also welcomed Prince Charles to the church as part of a two-day visit to Northern Ireland last year.

He will take over at Drumbo from Fr Martin Kelly, who is retiring.

The parish was the subject of an independent audit in June after complaints of financial mismanagement.

There was a dispute in relation to a large house in the area that was left as a gift to the parish following the death of an elderly parishioner. An independent audit later found there were no issues.

Another high-profile priest on the move is Fr Pat McCafferty. Fr McCafferty revealed a number of years ago that he was abused as a trainee priest in a seminary.

He was 19 years old and in his second year in the seminary when he suffered sexual abuse at the hands of Fr James Donaghy.

Fr McCafferty will move from his Crossgar parish to Corpus Christi Parish in west Belfast at the end of the month.

"I would like to record my thanks to all my priest colleagues affected by the above appointments. I thank all involved in these appointments for their co-operation and I wish them God’s blessing, good health and fulfilment in their respective ministries," Bishop Treanor said.

The Bishop of Down and Conor Noel Treanor has made a raft of clerical changes "in response to the pastoral needs of the people" and they will take effect on October 28. Picture: Declan Roughan

The full diocesan changes are:

Very Rev Martin Kelly to retire as a Pastoral Emeritus

Very Rev Michael Sheehan, to be PP Drumbo & Carryduff

Very Rev Eugene O’Neill, to be Adm St Patrick’s, Belfast

Very Rev Brendan Smyth, to be PP Killyleagh

Very Rev Brendan Mulhall, to be Adm Holy Trinity

Very Rev Diarmuid Sheehan, on loan from The White Fathers, to be Adm Coleraine

Very Rev Martin Magill, to be Adm Ballyclare & Ballygowan

Very Rev Darach MacGiolla Cathain, to be PP Sacred Heart

Very Rev Peter Carlin, to provide pastoral support in Sacred Heart Parish

Very Rev Patrick McCafferty, to be PP Corpus Christi

Rev Don Kettle, on loan from Archdiocese of Perth, to be Adm Crossgar

Rev Conor McGrath, to be CC Drumbo & Carryduff

Rev James O’Reilly, newly ordained, to be CC Antrim

Very Rev Brian O’Kane SMA, to be Adm Rasharkin pro tempore

Rev Gerard Fox, to be Associate Episcopal Vicar for Education

Rev Edward McGee, to be Director of Schools Trustee Service

The changes will take effect on October 28.

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