Last updated 3rd August 2022.
Dated 23rd June 2022
As many of you know, the Council of the Carmelites in Ireland have informed the parish of their intention to return the care of the parish to the Archdiocese of Dublin from the 30th January 2022.
Below is the letter from Fr Michael Troy, Carmelite Provincial, which was read at all masses on the 19th/20th June, together with the response from the Parish Pastoral Council. If you prefer the full letter can be downloaded here.
In light of the depth of feelings generated throughout the parish as a consequence of this decision, the Parish Pastoral Council has decided to petition the Council of the Carmelites, requesting that they reverse their decision and continue to maintain their presence in the parish.
The online petition has closed. Thank you to all who have signed.
Dated 3rd August 2021
Your parish Pastoral Council received a response from Fr. Michael Troy, Prior Provincial of the Carmelite Order in Ireland., following the presentation of the Provincial Council of the Carmelites of the parish petition that they reverse the decision to return the care of the parish to the Archdiocese.
The petition was discussed by the Provincial Council and unfortunately, Fr. Michael Troy has informed us the decision to return the care of the parish of St Colmcille to the Archbishop stands. This will be effective from 30th January 2022, as previously notified.
The correspondence with Fr. Michael as available to read and download below.
It is the view the Parish Pastoral Council that in light of the reaffirmation of the decision that we will work with the current Carmelite community to complete the transition process as effectively as seamlessly as possible and we as for you support and prayers in the months ahead.
I am writing to you today to communicate a decision of the Provincial Council of the Carmelite Order. After serious consideration over the last two years, it has been decided to return the pastoral care of the parish of St Colmcille’s to the Archdiocese of Dublin. I wish to assure you that this is not a decision we have made lightly. Indeed, it is one we make with heavy hearts.
As you are no doubt aware, the Carmelites have been present here in Knocklyon since the foundation of the parish. Over the years, the Carmelites, in collaboration with you the people, built up this parish. There has always been a great sense of community here in Knocklyon, and I know that the many Carmelites who have lived and worked in this parish have formed strong and lasting friendships. This is a difficult day for us all and the news that I share with you will be greeted some surprise and with much sadness. However, I believe that this is just the end of one chapter in the story of St Colmcille’s. Your commitment to your parish and strong spirit of co-responsibility has helped form wonderful structures, teams and groups which will sustain the parish and help it continue to grow, develop and serve the people well into the future.
As Carmelites, we have faced many difficulties over the last number of years, key among them is the absence of vocations to our way of life. This fact has led to the serious issue in our ability to maintain all our communities and ministries in Ireland. We have made difficult and painful decisions. Over the last ten years, we have returned the care of the parish of Beaumont to the Archdiocese of Dublin, closed our community in Knocktopher, Co. Kilkenny, and entrusted the care of our friary church in Kildare Town to our Carmelite brothers from India.
However, even with these decisions, we face ongoing issues maintaining an effective presence in our remaining communities. To put this in context, there are currently 39 Carmelites living in Ireland, 27 of whom are over 70 years of age, and some of those are in poor health. The decision to return the parish to the Archdiocese is in no way a reflection on the parish. Rather, the decision is based upon our personnel resources and on the needs and abilities of our members at this time.
Some may see the timing of this announcement as unfortunate, as we are emerging from the restrictions and difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, within the context of the Archdiocese of Dublin, this can be viewed as a hopeful time. In his homily on Holy Thursday of this year, Archbishop Dermot Farrell announced the establishment of a Taskforce to assess the needs of the people of the Archdiocese and “to prepare an approach to a pastoral strategy that supports parish communities of faith to undertake a radical renewal, looking to the future with creativity.” As we emerge from the pandemic, we cannot simply return to the way things were before. We must work to establish a new way of being community and being parish. It is my hope that this pastoral strategy in the Archdiocese will inspire a new and exciting chapter in the life of the Diocese and especially in the parish of St Colmcille’s.
Over the last number of months, we have been in dialogue with the Archdiocese and it will be the role of the Archbishop to appoint the pastor who will succeed the Carmelites here in St Colmcille’s. We will work together with the Parish Pastoral Council and the Archdiocese to ensure a smooth transition, as your parish returns to diocesan administration on Sunday 30th January 2022.
The message of today’s Gospel is very clear: Christ is with us at all times and in every situation. Just as Jesus was present with his disciples in the midst of the storm on the lake, he is present with us on the ups and downs of our journey of life, helping us come through them.
To conclude, I would like to thank the local Carmelite community, Fr Fintan Burke, Fr Martin Parokaaran, Fr Joe Mothersill and Fr Michael Morrissey, for their commitment and work in the parish over the last number of years. This will be a particularly difficult time for them as they carry the burden of our decision. I thank the Parish Pastoral Council for their support and collaboration, as we begin to transition to a new administration. I thank Archbishop Farrell for his understanding and support in this time of change and challenge. Finally, I would like to thank you all. As I mentioned, there has always been a strong sense of community here in Knocklyon. We are greatly appreciative of the support and encouragement you have shown towards the Order both in Ireland and in Zimbabwe over the last 47 years. I believe that the bonds which have been built between the Carmelites and the people of Knocklyon has enriched us all and will continue to be a cherished source of pride and strength for many years to come.
As we work together over the coming months, I pray that God’s Spirit of understanding and courage be with us all as we build a hope-filled future for our Church and Order. In the midst of our anxieties and fears, we are invited to call on Jesus, for he is always there with us, and he hears our cry. May God continue to bless each one of us in our lives and ministries.
Michael Troy, Prior Provincial
Upon continutation is the responce from the Parish Pastrol Council to Fr Michael Troy. You can also download a copy of the response here.
Without doubt, this is a very sad day for all of us in Knocklyon Parish. Fr Michael’s announcement will be a great shock to many people and we will all have very mixed emotions and, understandably some concern for the future of our parish. It is actually hard to imagine life in our parish without the Carmelite presence, a presence that has seen us through many changes and challenges since the parish was constituted in 1974.
Fr Michael has articulated the difficulties facing the Carmelites, which has resulted in this decision and while we can all fully identify with the reasons, it does not alter the sorrow and sense of loss we all feel at the ending of a relationship which has been so important in developing a sense of community here in the parish. As he mentions, the bonds between the Carmelites and the people here in Knocklyon have enriched us all.
So, while we may be surprised and regret the situation we find ourselves in, we must also acknowledge with gratitude the work of so many Carmelite friars since the foundation of the parish. Without them, we would not have the vibrant parish community we have today. From the formation of the parish, so many Carmelites have left their mark , from the early halcyon days with the late Fr Paddy Staunton to the current team of Fr Martin, Fr Joe, Fr Fintan and Fr Michael, every one of the Carmelites ministering in Knocklyon has provided their own unique contribution and all have added to the creation of a sense of community that is rare in the world in which we live today. The work undertaken in this community, led by our Carmelite friars has seen Knocklyon become a beacon of Christian endeavour. The building of our Church, of our Primary schools, our Community School, the creation of our Community Centre, the building of the Iona Pastoral Centre and the development of so many parish groups have all aided and enabled parishioners and created a sense of caring for one another.
This caring attitude has been evident more than ever throughout the pandemic when our Carmelite priests kept our faith alive through keeping our Church open and available for prayer and through our online masses. Though it has been difficult and at times traumatic as a community we have pulled through and please God, we will be able to get back to a fully functioning parish in the near future.
So, what does the future hold ?
From the beginning of February next year the parish will revert to the direct control of the Archdiocese. In due course, the Archbishop will decide on who will minister here and in what circumstances. In the meantime, we will continue to have a Carmelite presence and we hope to use the time between now and then to try and complete as much of our missed sacramental preparation as possible.
Let us all pray that the Lord will guide us through the coming period with strength and compassion. Let us pray too for Fr Martin, Fr Joe, Fr Fintan as they face change in their ministry. Let us look with hope to the future and in the words of St Paul,
“ May the God of hope fill you all with joy and peace as you
Trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power
Of the Holy Spirit “
Romans 15 : 13
Thank you all for your attention – let us pray for one another in the uncertain days ahead.
I am writing to you on behalf of the Parish Pastoral Council of St Colmcille’s Parish in Knocklyon, in response to your letter of June 2021, which was circulated to parishioners following your address to all masses on the weekend of the 19th /20th June.
In your letter you confirmed that the Provincial Council of the Carmelite Order in Ireland intended to return the pastoral care of the parish of St Colmcille’s to the Archdiocese of Dublin from the 30th January 2022. As you anticipated, this news was greeted with extreme sadness, disappointment and indeed some anger by parishioners.
In outlining the decision to return the Parish to the diocese, you indicated how the absence of vocations to your way of life is presenting the Carmelite Order with ongoing difficulties in its ability to maintain an effective presence in its current ministries in Ireland.
While we acknowledge these difficulties, we respectfully suggest that the lack of vocations is not only confined to the Carmelite Order but is rather a reality affecting all clergy - both religious and diocesan.
Likewise, while we recognise the ageing profile of the Province, we have never witnessed how this has in any way inhibited the dedication and enthusiasm of those of your colleagues who have been more than willing to minister among us throughout the years, since the foundation
of the parish.
Therefore, while we remain supportive of and sympathetic to the significant challenges you face, we also have the following concerns for both our parish and for the Carmelite Order:
Having listened carefully to all of the views expressed to members of the Parish Pastoral Council individually and collectively, verbally and in correspondence and emails, we decided to organise a petition requesting that the Provincial Council of the Carmelite Order in Ireland
reverse their decision to return the care of Knocklyon Parish to the Dublin Archdiocese at this time.
The petition was launched on Thursday 24th June and closed on Thursday 1st July. In that time, more than 3,200 parishioners signed the petition, either in person or, on the parish website. The number of signatories is, we believe, indicative of the widespread support that exists to
retain the Carmelite presence in our parish.
The level of support generated will, we hope, allow the Provincial Council to reconsider their decision and to instead agree to continue in ministry in the parish for the foreseeable future.
Fidelity to our collective vocation and Christian commitment requires constancy, dedication and perseverance; all of which have been the hallmark of the Carmelite charism through its pastoral ministry to God’s people in Knocklyon.
It is therefore our fervent hope that you might see the value of continuing the Carmelite ministry in Knocklyon. As such, we earnestly pray that the Holy Spirit of understanding and courage intercede to be with you and to guide you in discerning God’s will for all that is right for both Knocklyon Parish and the Carmelite Order.
In these days preceding the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we pray for her intercession, that the Provincial Council may find the courage to reconsider the timeframe of their decision and that, inspired by her example and in allegiance to her Son, Jesus Christ, you may continue in striving to serve Him faithfully among the people of Knocklyon.
Parish Pastoral Council
I want to thank you and the members of the Parish Pastoral Council for meeting with Fr David and myself on 6th July 2021. During this meeting, you presented the Petition from the parishioners of St Colmcille’s Parish. Thank you for outlining the petition process and the logic behind its organisation. This was appreciated. More importantly, during our conversations, you gave voice to the strong feelings and sense of loss behind many of the signatures. I also acknowledge the love and support you expressed towards the Carmelites who have ministered in St Colmcille’s Parish over the years to the present day. Again, I thank you for expressing your views on our decision to return the pastoral responsibility of the parish to the Archdiocese of Dublin. I recognise how significant the Carmelite presence in Knocklyon has been for many people. I acknowledge that our decision does not represent a single loss, but many: the ministry, the sense of community and shared history, and the friendships. These are cherished memories for which we are thankful.
The petition you presented was discussed at our Provincial Council meeting. While there was acknowledgement and appreciation of the feelings expressed, it was agreed that the decision to return the care of the parish of St Colmcille’s to the Archbishop of Dublin is still the right course of action. This will be effective from 30th January 2022. Our decision was made in the context of a wider discernment regarding the future of the Order in Ireland. It was a very difficult decision to make, and it understandably saddens people in the parish.
However, it remains a necessary decision in the overall context of Carmelite life and ministry. We are an ageing Order in Ireland. We have had only two new members join in the last twenty-five years, a pattern which is unlikely to change significantly in the near future. Closing communities or handing on ministries/roles we have traditionally fulfilled, as we have done in recent years, may be regretted. Some will view it as a negative step and a limitation on our pastoral outreach. I assure you that it was a great challenge to weigh the relative gains and losses, both tangible and intangible, of handing back the parish to the Diocese. It was not a decision that was made lightly. However, I believe that taking these necessary and strategic decisions now will allow the Carmelites in Ireland to focus on the future in hope, help ease the personnel situation in the province and enable us to commit to the communities and ministries which remain. While I acknowledge the great relationship between the Carmelites and the people of Knocklyon, I must also state that in all our communities, in Ireland and Zimbabwe, our ministry is important, valued by the people and satisfying for the friars, and there have been enduring friendships built in each of them.
While it can be said that there is no good time to make difficult decisions in life, there is a right time. We believe that a Chapter year and, as previously mentioned, a year in which the Dublin Diocese has engaged in a planning process is the right time. The parish is also currently in a position of strength, and we are not making the decision as a result of a crisis. This will allow us to work with you, the Pastoral Council, to develop and implement the best transition possible. If the timeframe of the decision were changed this would not necessarily be the case.
Through the dedication of the people of Knocklyon and the Carmelites who ministered in St Colmcille’s over the years, you have established a great community spirit. Together with the wonderful parish structures and resources, liturgical teams/groups and countless volunteers, the parish can face the future challenges with confidence and hope. The parish of St Colmcille’s and ministry to the people to Knocklyon will continue into the future. Yes, it will be different and will be a change for many people, but we all have to adapt to changing circumstances in the Church and in the Carmelite Order.
While acknowledging the sense of loss that many may feel, I would hope that over the next six months, we will work together to addresses the concerns you have for your parish at this time of transition and change, to celebrate and give thanks for the past, but most crucially to work to outline a future vision for the parish, that is positive, filled with hope and joy. I appreciate that much of this work will fall to the Pastoral Council, and I pray that God’s spirit of wisdom and courage be with you in your role, as you lead the parish forward into a new period of ministry in Knocklyon.
From your experience as parish leadership and of the Dublin Diocese on many different levels, you know that the Church of the future will be very different and will involve lay leadership, radical renewal and looking to the future with creativity. I am confident that your parish will meet those challenges with the energy and enthusiasm that has been the hallmark of St Colmcille’s over the years. In this time of change in the Church and in the Diocese might not St Colmcille’s Parish play a leading role in developing a new model of parish ministry and administration into the future? It was through the grace of God that St Colmcille’s Parish mutually enriched the people of Knocklyon and the Carmelite Order in so many ways and on many levels, and it will be by the grace of God that a new period of ministry, growth and development will emerge over the coming months and years.
May Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Mother and Sister, continue to walk with us on our journey of life and may she enfold us in her mantle of love and protection. May God continue to bless you and all those you love.
With kindest regards,
Michael Troy O.Carm.,