The parishioners of Kilcummin in County Kerry have launched a fierce campaign protesting the removal of their parish priest Father Eamon Mulvihill.
As Ireland's Catholic priests retire and age, fewer young men are joining the priesthood, which means Ireland is facing a priest shortage. This has been keenly felt in County Kerry, in Ireland's south-west, where eight of the county's 53 parishes have found themselves without resident parish priests in recent years.
Since learning that their parish priest, Fr. Eamon Mulvihill, is being moved to the parish of Castlegregory, residents of Kilcummin parish have launched a campaign to retain him.
This reshuffling comes on the heels of three priests retiring.
Kilcummin parishioners to bring their fight to retain resident parish priest to Archbishophttps://t.co/oLcBhSl0RS— Radio Kerry News (@radiokerrynews) July 25, 2019
Kilcummin, near the town of Killarney, is the second-largest parish in County Kerry, and locals are furious that they will be left without a resident priest, especially when smaller parishes will not be impacted. They have been boycotting collections at mass and have collected 1,200 signatures on a petition of protest for Kerry's Bishop Ray Browne.
Whereas the parish collected €1,800 the week before Fr. Mulvihill's reassignment was announced, the Irish Independent reported that since the announcement only a few hundred euros have been collected.
"The collection was very very small. The boxes were handed out and it is up to everyone to make their own decision," local parishioner, Pat O'Sullivan told the newspaper. "We will continue this boycott the boxes will be handed up but everyone can decide what to do."
Bishop Browne has said that the parish of Kilcummin will be tended to by Killarney's parish priest, but residents say this solution is not tenable given the parish's size.
Kilcummin parishioners request meeting with Bishop following loss of their resident parish priesthttps://t.co/SILpTK0ooW— Radio Kerry News (@radiokerrynews) July 3, 2019
"We are 11 miles long and five miles wide and have three schools and two nursing homes and they all need a priest. How will they have a priest from Killarney?" O'Sullivan asked.
After making little headway in two meetings with Bishop Browne's represented, which a few hundred locals attended, the Irish Examiner reports that they will now attempt to hand the petition to Bishop Browne in person.
"We are very, very angry and we have a lot of things to iron out with the Bishop," O'Sullivan said."