The number of vocations to the priesthood in County Galway is showing a significant increase compared to a decade ago – but the clergy are not being complacent.
There have been two ordinations in the Galway Diocese already this year with another one planned for the Summer. There have been ordinations in the Tuam Archdiocese as well in recent years and one is planned for next year.
But the interest in the priesthood has intensified in recent years and currently there are five studying for the priesthood in the Tuam Archdiocese – there is one from Clifden, two from Claremorris, one from Castlebar and Gerard Quirke from Parkview Drive in Tuam.
And Fr Fintan Monahan, who is both Vocations Director and Secretary to the Archdiocese of Tuam, told the Connacht Tribune that the level of interest in the priesthood was encouraging.
He said that apart from the five clerical students – or seminarians – there were around seven people interested in a life in the priesthood. He admitted that this is a very different situation to 10 years ago when there were very few.
Fr Fintan said that while this was encouraging, he was disappointed that the number of vocations across Europe was down compared to other parts of the world. “We just have to keep trying but I am encouraged by the level of interest,” he added.
The lack of priests in Galway has resulted in a proposal that married men should preside at weddings, funerals and baptisms.
They would have to go through a three year training programme and it would result in the ordination of married men into the priesthood – although they would not be in a position to conduct a full Mass.
It would allow for any man over the age of 40, married or not, to become a deacon and they would be allowed to preach at Masses, carry out wedding ceremonies and preside at funerals.
The Archdiocese of Tuam, which covers most of Galway and Mayo, is expected to look for lay people to fill the roles of priests who are retiring.
It is estimated that by 2020 the 55 parishes of the Archdiocese will be served by approximately 50 priests, some 20 less than are currently in active ministry.
This will mean a growing number of parishes will not have a resident priest.
A document issued by the Archdiocese underlines the importance of the promotion and nurturing of vocations to the priesthood, saying that this is the responsibility of every member of the church community.
In planning for the future, it stresses that while every parish may not have a resident priest all parishes will continue to have the services of a priest who will work as part of a team in groupings or ‘clusters’ of parishes.
Baptisms, weddings and funerals together with the main parish celebrations such as first communion and confirmation will continue to be celebrated in local parish churches.
Bikers do their bit to mark anniversary of blood service
This year marks the tenth anniversary of Blood Bike West, and the big birthday was marked in style with a sun-drenched afternoon at Galway Plaza’s Bike Fest West.
Galway stuntman Mattie Griffin was the headline attraction; there was face painting, games, plenty of ice-cream – and hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts and families.
The birthday celebrations kicked off with a 160-strong motorcycle spin around the Galway countryside, raising well-needed funds for the volunteering efforts of Blood Bike West.
As a 100% volunteer-run and funded organisation, donations are vitally important for Blood Bike West to continue operating their medical transport in the West of Ireland.
Since its inception in 2012, demand for their volunteers’ services continues to grow: collecting and delivering all manner of urgent medical items regionally and nationally, such as bloods, breast milk, medicines, scans, and equipment.
In 2021 alone, Blood Bike West delivered 983 urgent medical deliveries throughout the country.
As part of Galway City Councils Community, Blood Bike West undertook to operate a 24/7 service, including 165 medication deliveries from pharmacies to the self-isolating and vulnerable during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Since Blood Bike West’s inception in 2012, this increase sees the ongoing need to replace and renew their fleet of motorcycles.
Their motorbikes, Madison, Heather, Margaret, and newly inaugurated bike Cara, are regularly seen on Galway roads, delivering consignments to and from local and regional hospitals.
Park fun to mark Africa Day
On Saturday next (May 28) in Salthill Park, Galway’s African community invites people to join them in a celebration of culture as part of the national Africa Day celebrations.
Africa United Galway, emerging from lockdown and having hosted online festivals for the past two years, will be delivering a family fun day event.
Africa Day 2022 will reinforce a collaboration between Africa United Galway and Galway Africa Diaspora, Shining Light Galway and GoCom Radio (broadcasting live), who have worked to create a festival that will showcase Galway as a city of culture.
Among the performances on the day will be Afrobeat dancer Lapree Lala of Southside Moves, who will show how to dance in African style; Elikya Band will be bringing indigenous African Congolese music; The Youth Performances will be displaying their talent in rap, singing, speaking, and dancing and for the young at heart.
Galway Afrobeat performer Dave Kody will get the crowd moving and there will be poetry through spoken word and cultural displays. There will be a photo booth and face painting and everyone will get to have a taste of African cuisines.
In the spirit of inclusion and integration, The St Nicholas Collegiate Church Parish Choir will be presenting a special African performance as well as a feature presentation by the Hession School of Irish Dance, who will be presenting the famous Riverdance.
Also organised is a football friendly between the African community and An Garda Siochana.
The Mayor, Colette Connolly, will officially be opening the event with a keynote speech and several African Ambassadors are expected to be present on the day to reinforce the culture, beauty and strength of Africa and support for its people.
Africa Day is sponsored by Irish Aid and supported by Galway City Council.
Domestic Violence Response recorded highest number of clients in 24 years under Covid ‘shadow’
BY TIFFANY GREENWALDT-SIMON
A domestic violence support charity in Galway has recorded its highest number of clients in 24 years – “under the shadow” of Covid-19.
Domestic Violence Response (DVR), which is based in Moycullen, also reported its highest level of counselling support sessions in its 2021 annual report published last week.
The charity saw 136 new clients in 2021, and a total of 266 people utilised its services. It also saw a significant increase of return service users.
The support service also provided 51 nights of emergency accommodation through a partnership between Airbnb, Safe Ireland, and Women’s Aid.
Elizabeth Power, Coordinator of DVR Galway, said: “Our 2021 annual report highlights the stark reality of the level of domestic violence in Galway. Under the shadow of Covid-19, DVR recorded the highest number of clients in our 24-year history and delivered the highest number of support services.
“Our staff noted increases in the level of worrying and harrowing experiences of control and abuse. The trauma of these experiences will live with our service users long after Covid-19 fades into memory.
“While Covid-19 restrictions are behind us, domestic violence continues to be present in hundreds of homes throughout Galway.
“As we move through 2022, we will continue to provide our much-needed services to women and men throughout Galway, with an extensive counselling support and advocacy service and a number of new initiatives including a partnership with the HSE which will be launched in the coming months.”
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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