Parishes across the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois claim to be bucking the national trend with the overwhelming majority of collection levels remaining steady, a Leader investigation has uncovered.
Over half a dozen parishes surveyed by this newspaper over the past seven days confirmed they were satisfied current income streams had been largely unaffected by the deepening economic gloom and falling Mass attendances.
In fact, only one parish -Newtowncashel in the southern half of the county-expressed concern at the situation, revealing collections had drastically reduced.
“We would be down €200 a week,” said local parish priest, Fr Gerard Brady.
According to Fr Brady, job losses and rising emigration trends especially among the parish’s younger population had played a part in hitting revenue channels.
“Yes, that is true, there would have been people who would have gone off to Australia and other places but we (Newtowncashel) never really benefitted from the Celtic Tiger. There’s no doubt that people are feeling the pinch and finding things more difficult,” he said.
But it is the apparant ease with which many other pockets of the diocese are coping which has left senior clerics and church leaders quietly optimistic about the future.
Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, Colm O’Reilly said collections across the diocese were down by between “five and ten per cent,” with rural communities fairing better than predominantly urban based ones.
“We are certainly nowhere near bankruptcy,” he said, in the same week both the Archdiocese of Dublin and Cloyne Diocese admitted grave concerns over its own financial comings and goings.
Dr O’Reilly was just as quick to negate fears weekly takings had been adversely affected by the Church’s recent clerical sex abuse scandal.
“I don’t think that is the reason less people are going to Mass. The fact is if people have less then there is less money they can put in the plate,” he said.
The long serving cleric, who has been at the helm of the Ardagh and Clonmacnois diocese since 1983, revealed as much as €12,000 had been received following a recent and impromtu collection held in Longford in aid of Trocaire.
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