Sunday, September 16, 2012

Local churches draw up plans for priestless Masses


Published on Thursday 13 September 2012 17:03
RADICAL new plans for Tyrone parishes to hold Sunday services led by lay people have been drawn up by church leaders.
The previously unthinkable move has been announced to tackle the acute shortage of priests and their increasingly older age profile.
Dean Colum Currie of Dungannon parish said that according to the new guidelines where there is no possiblity of getting a priest, male and female lay people will be able to conduct a Sunday service with a liturgy of the word and the Eucharist, followed by distribution of Holy Communion.
Lay people including women, have already conducted Sunday services from the altar in churches in the South.
Last week, parishioners turned up as usual for Sunday evening Mass in Blessington, Wicklow. However, when no priest arrived, a religious sister who was present led a liturgy, preached a homily and distributed Holy Communion to those present.
However, Dean Currie added that the changes were not an immediate concern for local parishes as there was no ‘drastic shortage’ of priests.
“We are very fortunate in that we have experienced no dramatic shortfall”, he said.
“Indeed, we have two new priests now ministering in local parishes, and the first batch of deacons are due to be ordained next summer and will be available to help out throughout the diocese.
“However, this is an issue that we will have to address further down the road.”
He added that it was not an entirely new concept as lay people already assisted priests with giving out the Eucharist, and through pastoral councils.
“This is a change in how we operate, and an opportunity to involve more lay people. In most parishes, we now have pastoral councils, which bring a freshness and a new energy to parish life. They are mostly made up off very dedicated lay people who bring their own personal and professional skills to bear on pastoral issues.
“These changes allow people to express their baptismal calling, and to add to their role in the Church, which might not have been developed in the past.
“This is a good example of a golden opportunity emerging out of the current crisis.”
It is believed that a ‘discussion document’ will be circulated to senior church leaders in the coming weeks which will set out plans for what parishioners can do when there is no priest to say Mass.
Laypeople will be expected to take a lead role.
It will also be made clear that such services should only happen in exceptional circumstances where there is no possibility of getting a priest.


  1. Of course it's a bad thing, but it's best to be aware of what is happening.