Northern Ireland news

Diminishing priest numbers signal extensive diocesan changes in Clogher

Diocesan administrator of the Diocese of Clogher Monsignor Joseph McGuinness

THE Diocese of Clogher's diminishing number of priests and their increasing age profile have been highlighted ahead of extensive diocesan changes.

In a pastoral letter announcing the changes, diocesan administrator Monsignor Joseph McGuinness noted that for the 37 parishes and 85 churches in the Diocese of Clogher, which encompasses all of Co Monaghan, most of Fermanagh and portions of Tyrone, Donegal, Louth and Cavan, there are just 58 priests in active ministry.

He said this represented a reduction of about a third in the number of active priests in the diocese in just 20 years.

During the past year alone, the diocese has lost the service of seven priests through death, serious illness and other reasons, and while one new priest was ordained, the letter makes it is clear that the number of active priests in the diocese will continue to decline.

Of the 58 priests who are active in parishes, some 28 of these are over the age of 65, with only seven under the age of 50.

Mgr McGuinness says that “there are obvious implications in this for our ability to sustain the levels of pastoral and sacramental provision which have existed until now, as well as the administrative structures within our diocese".

He calls for more vocations to the priesthood and encourages parents to support a son who shows interest in becoming a priest.

The diocesan changes effective Saturday September 8 are:

  • Very Rev Canon Joseph Mullin, Parish Priest Lisnaskea & Maguiresbridge (Aghalurcher), to retire and be Pastor Emeritus, Maguiresbridge;
  • Very Rev Canon Michael McGourty, Parish Priest Irvinestown (Devenish), to retire and be Pastor Emeritus, resident in Ballyshannon (Saint Joseph’s) and supporting pastoral ministry in the parishes of Bundoran-Ballyshannon and Belleek-Garrison (Magh Ene and Inis Muighe Samh);
  • Very Rev Michael King, Parish Priest Newtownbutler (Galloon), to retire and be Pastor Emeritus Newtownbutler;
  • Very Rev Jimmy McPhillips,Parish Priest Derrygonnelly (Botha), to be Parish Priest Lisnaskea & Maguiresbridge (Aghalurcher) and Adm Newtownbutler (Galloon);
  • Rev Kevin Duffy, CC Lisnaskea & Maguiresbridge (Aghalurcher), to be PP Irvinestown (Devenish);
  • Rev Cathal Deery, CC Clones, to be PP Derrygonnelly (Botha);
  • Very Rev Canon Pat McHugh PP, Castleblayney (Muckno), to retire from administration and to take sabbatical leave;
  • Very Rev Canon Shane McCaughey, Priest in Residence in Aughnamullen East, to be PP Castleblayney (Muckno) and Adm Aughnamullen East;
  • Very Rev Tom Quigley, PP Latton (Aughnamullen West), to be PE Latton;
  • Very Rev Owen J McEneaney, PP Ballybay (Tullycorbet), to be also Adm Latton (Aughnamullen West) and Rockcorry (Ematris);
  • Rt Rev Mgr Larry Duffy, PP Carrickmacross, to be also Adm. Magheracloone;
  • Rt Rev Mgr Joseph McGuinness, Adm Tyholland, to support Pastoral Ministry in the Parish of Monaghan and Rackwallace;
  • Rev Owen Gorman, CC Castleblayney (Muckno), to be Priest in Residence Aughnamullen East, supporting Pastoral Ministry in the Mid-Monaghan Area;
  • Rev Leo Creelman, CC Castleblayney (Muckno), to be CC Monaghan and Rackwallace;
  • Rev Stephen Duffy, CC Monaghan and Rackwallace, to be CC Castleblayney (Muckno);
  • Rev Kevin Malcolmson, CC Monaghan, and Rackwallace to be CC Enniskillen and Lisbellaw;
  • Rev Michael Jordan, CC Carrickmacross, to be Priest in Residence Killanny, supporting Pastoral Ministry in the South Monaghan Area;
  • Rev Seán Mulligan, newly-ordained, to be Priest in Residence Carrickmacross, supporting Pastoral Ministry in the South Monaghan Area;
  • Rev Kevin Connolly, Deacon, to minister in the Parish of Monaghan and Rackwallace;
  • Rev Martin Donnelly, Permanent Deacon, to minister in the Parish of Enniskillen and Lisbellaw, supporting Pastoral Ministry in the Enniskillen and West Fermanagh area

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