Parish faces two year wait for new priest

Mgr Peter O' Reilly

Mgr Peter O’ Reilly

TWO months after Mass times were reduced at St Michael’s in Enniskillen due to a lack of priests, Monsignor Peter O’Reilly has said the parish “remains vibrant”.

In October, changes were introduced to Sunday and weekday Masses. This involved the reduction of one Sunday Mass and some alterations to weekday Masses.


In 1971 there were five priests in Enniskillen, serving 1,400 families and a population of 6,000 people. Now 45-years later there are two full-time priests together with one semi-retired priest serving over 3,000 families and 9,000 people.

Parish Priest of St Michael’s, Monsignor O’Reilly spoke at Masses during August and explained the situation. This was followed by two open meetings to which all parishioners and parish groups were invited and given the chance to explore options.

“At the parish meetings, people showed themselves very understanding of the situation faced by the priests,” he told the Herald this week.
He added: “It is impossible to spread the reduction of clergy evenly. So while other towns may seem better provided for now, that will not be the case for very long. It is only a matter of time before every parish will become a one-priest parish. Enniskillen is next on the list for a diocesan priest when there is one and that is two years away in the summer of 2018.”

The Monsignor has also pointed out that in recent years, the proportion of ministry being delivered by lay people has increased and will increase further.

“While our older notions of parish have been very clergy-dependent, the present reality of parish is less so. The loss of a priest, while significant and to be regretted, is not the loss of parish as such. The recent change in clergy provision calls us all to see the new reality of parish life. Formal parish life needs the gifts of more people.”

Monsignor O’Reilly says the new situation also presents a significant risk such as if one of the parish clergy should become ill, it would become challenging to deliver ministry. However he says the new Mass times appear to be working well.

“There is a noticeably good attendance at all the Masses, particularly at the 6pm Vigil Mass and at the 10.30am Sunday morning Mass.


“In the meantime, we had a very well-attended Parish Mission, Dance and Bazaar. All of these events were organised by priests and people working together. It shows me that our parish remains vibrant, even if we are without the number of priests we used to have. Of course, it’s not the same as it was, but then few things remain the same forever”.

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