Monday, 19 January 2015




Treanor's "Creating Pastoral Communities"

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Down & Connor - Noel Treanor - is planning and executing the destruction of the ancient Diocese of Down and Connor and no one is raising a voice against him!

Noel Treanor
Treanor, a European bureaucrat, who shows little or no emotion, is sitting in his recently renovated palace (which cost millions to renovate) on Belfast's Somerton Road and planning the destruction of the ancient parish system which goes back hundreds if not a thousand years.

He is achieving his goal by producing expensive colourful reports and studies full of statistics and information. His latest document can be seen on the Down and Connor web site under the misleading heading: CREATING PASTORAL COMMUNITIES.

He is planning to turn the diocese of 87 ancient parishes into 15 pastoral areas - each area being run by a priest "moderator" and a number of assistant priests.

These "moderatorships" (a presbyterian term) will contain 25,000 Catholics.

He gives two main reasons for his historic "reshuffle":

1. The fact that by 2024 there will only be 91 priests in the diocese under 75. But that means that even in 10 years time there will be more priests than parishes!

2. The fact that some 80 - 84 % of Catholics are no longer attending Sunday Mass.

Mind you, one wonders if it has not more to do with the fact that he, as bishop, will only have to celebrate Confirmation ceremonies on 15 days per annum instead of 87?

He is not famous for being an enthusiastic "confirmer".

He appears to be happier at his antique desk or indeed travelling abroad at every available opportunity. 

His plans do not make spiritual or pastoral sense. 

1. Currently he has 199 priests in the Diocese between diocesan, religious and retired priests. That is more than 2 priests for every existing parish!

2. He is ignoring that fact that for hundreds of years many thousands of parishioners around the diocese have saved and scrimped to build churches, maintain churches and provide an income for priests.

3. If he begins to destroy parishes - which have the devotion and allegiance of parishioners - he is going to cause great hurt and resentment and those attending Sunday Mass will drop from the current 16 - 20 % to the low single figures.

4. The relationship between the people and their parish priest (when it is good) is the foundation rock of people's faith practice and having a remote priest "moderator" several parishes away will destroy the hard won pastoral relationship.

5. The introduction of these large areas with many churches in them is going to lead to the closure of churches that people love and where they have worship for decades if not centuries. These closures are going to cause great anger and resentment.

Saint Macnissi


There are many other alternatives to this proposed destruction of the diocese and parish structure.

1. All diocesan priests who are involved in non parish / pastoral work like teaching, canon law etc can be replaced by properly trained lay people and leave priests free to do the basic thing they were ordained for - be pastors of the flock. Good, believing and properly trained lay people can be secretaries, administrators, teachers, lectures and canon lawyers. They do not have to be priests to do these jobs. In Rome for instance there are many qualified lay canon lawyers.

2. The Church is Down and Connor can advance the training of Catholics ordained to the Permanent Diaconate and they can preside at Communion Services, Weddings, Baptisms and Funerals if priests are in short supply.

3. Universally the Catholic Church is going to have to address  the ordination of married men to the priesthood. This is happening in other ways with the admission of married Anglican priests in England to the priesthood. This practice can become more a rule than an exception.

4. The Catholic Church is going to have to seriously address the role of women in ministry. Noel Treanor's own report makes it clear that 56% of those attending Sunday Mass in the diocese are female. Here we have a whole untapped resource.

5. Since Vatican 11 some 250,000 priests have left active ministry to marry. Many of these priests are waiting on the sidelines and would be more than happy to return to ministry on a volunteer basis - a bit like the Anglican "Non Stipendiary Priest". These good men are waiting and all we need is a small change in man made Church law - not any God given rule. 

So there are many solutions before we even think of destruction or demolition.

There is a story told about one occasion when the Emperor Napoleon met a cardinal and said to him:

"Your Eminence, I am going to destroy the Church of Rome".

The cardinal smiled and replied: "You have no chance - we priests have been trying to destroy it for centuries".


A few years ago I went to rural France to celebrate a wedding and a baptism in a small village. I used the 14th century parish church there which now belongs to the commune and the mayor.

The parish priest there is a "moderator" of 14 parishes and the parishioners have Mass once every three months!

It has led to the death of the parish and a near total lack of interest in the faith.

Is Ireland to become like France?

I hope that SOMEONE - or SOMETHING - will stop the Eurocrat - Noel Treanor - from destroying the ancient diocese of Saint Malachy and Saint Macnissi.

Saint Malachy

+Pat Buckley


  1. Is the "Outsider" and "Scapegoat" Pat Buckley the only one pleading for the continued integrity of our Diocese?

    Will we soon end up a "Diocese-Of-Ease" to Brussels?

    PP D&C

  2. As one of the 16% I will not be giving another penny to my parish until I'm sure I'm going to have a parish left.

    T. Drumaroad.

  3. A great responsibility for this dire situation rests with the Irish Bishop's conference, who have done nothing to challenge the continued rule on mandatory celibacy.
    This rule is slowly leading to the extinction of Diocesan clergy in Ireland, and to the clergy becoming largely a gay occupation.
    All Bishop Treanor can offer is to destroy the parish structure, and increase the workload of the few clergy left.

    Priest of Down & Connor.

  4. i have grown up believing that Portglenone and Rathsharkin are in County Antrim. However the new D&C Consultation document informs me that they are in fact in Co Down, Rathsharkin being on the Ards Peninsula and Portglenone lying somewhere in the Greater Downpatrick area. Methinks a proof reader needs their arse kicked. Lol

    1. Maybe Bishop Treanor has the permission of the European Parliament to move Rasharkin and Portglenone to County Down?

      Maybe this will be achieved by sending German trucks into both villages in the middle of the night and giving the residents of both villages ten minutes to pack their belongings into suitcases for transportation?

      Rumour has it that the 84% are to be transported on specially built railways to holding camps in the Nuns Quarter area.

      Will this all be part of the Final Solution for Down and Connor?

    2. What the £$%£ are you talking about? You can't even spell Rasharkin!!

  5. Can you imagine the scenario. Canon Clericy is parish priest in Ballydumpling. He has a big parochial house all to himself. Then comes reorganisation. Canon ( who is 65 is asked to go to work in a team ministry based in the parochial house in Magheranowhere. He now has a large room and shares the house with 5 others but what's worse is that the Moderator is 15 years his junior and is part of the Lisbreen chosen few. It will become unworkable despite what those in authority might think. The bishop will soon learn that priests will tell him what they think he wants to hear but when it comes to its implementation its a different matter. D&C Fed Up

    1. The problem is that at the implementation stage the dye may be cast as the German population discovered.

  6. As I don't subscribe to or follow any RC affairs, other than this site, I have little knowledge of changes proposed. But from Pat's description of Trainor's proposals, they seem to me to be a typical bureaucratic administrative response centralising power to the chosen few.
    I have however always thought the geographical make-up of the D&C and Dromore diocese peculiar, for example with somewhere like Kilkeel in the Mournes/south Down part of D&C diocese, based on Belfast but stretching up into north Antrim, with places like Ballynahinch (Magherdroll parish) stuck in the middle, and Derrytrasna way out on Lough Neagh/Armagh, but part of Dromore diocese. Historical no doubt.

  7. A complete mis-representation of what is happening. Do you enjoy installing fear into the minds of ordinary people? Our diocese is by far not the first to do this. Also, the creation of pastoral communities will simply see a greater working relationship between parishes. This is no bad thing. Not every change is to be feared.

    1. It is universally established that the more intimate pastoral structures are the more people feel they belong. A prime example of this is the widespread use of Basic Christian Communities in vast South American parishes and dioceses.

      Remote leaders and structures lead to a sense on Non Belonging and isolation - which became evident in the "aircraft hanger" churches built by Archbishop Mc Quaid in Dublin in the 1960s.

      D&C already have a remote bishop. Now theee are to have remote moderators and moderatees.

      Its the "Europisation" of Irish Catholicism.

  8. I'm glad I read your blog today. I need cheering up. I had the biggest laugh of the year so far when I read the anonymous contribution extolling the virtues of parish co operation. Let me give him or her a dose of reality. Out priest decided to reduce the number of Sunday mass from 3 to 2. This meant that those used to attending the " middle" mass had to choose one of the other services to attend. The fun began when they tried sitting in their " usual " seats at the other masses to the consternation and anger of those who normally occupied them. There was pushing,shoving,dirty looks and bad bad feeling between worshippers. But all of this was nothing compared with the war which erupted between the offertory collectors from the different masses who felt that their divine right to take up the collection was being undermined by these interlopers from the cancelled mass. Baskets and collection plates were being hidden and on one occasion a virtual tug of war erupted between two collectors. The spirit of St Vincent de Paul non existent! So if that's the cooperation between mass goers in the same church then I can't wait to see the performances being acted out between parishes. World War 3 May be nearer than we think.

  9. I know of many examples like the one described concerning the integration of attendees at different masses. I would say Bishop Treanor will have his work cut out especially if he tries to get co- operation between the various parish "professionals. As a former PP in a parish full of those in "the professions" my heart was near broken and nerves on end as I was being told how to run the parish. Often matters became heated and I was never as glad to get a change. I know my successor felt the same way after a few months. God alone knows what problems lie ahead for those involved in trying to form these new pastoral areas. Good luck. Retired PP Armagh

  10. And no doubt all these warring factions determined to maintain their tiny grip on "power" believe that they are good holy christians! The dichotomy of it all!
    I saw so much of this when growing up a cradle catholic in a small town business community, where some of the most unkind and uncharitable public worthies were "pillars" of the RC church establishment. On every parish committee going and stuffed full of their own importance. And of course, "Yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir" between them and the oul PP. We had a couple of decent kind curates over the years but they never seemed to stay very long and had no say in parish affairs.
    Do any of you remember the monthly reading out from the pulpit at mass the parishoners' contributions "to the church"? As a child I could never understand why they paid the monthly Jews, and why the read out always started with the GP and hotel owners' £1, then went down through the ten shilling contributions etc. Reading out contributions at funerals was another status marker.
    Does any of that public oneupmanship still continue?


  11. M,

    My parents told me of these pulpit announcements as they grew up in Meath diocese.

    It would have been forgivable if these funeral "offerings" were passed on to poor grieving families to cover funeral expenses. But instead old PPs ran with canvas bags full of money to the parochial house.

    Funerals were graded by the size of the "offerings".

    Hopefully the 84% departures are the administration of natural justice?

    But still 16% of turkeys are voting for Christmas :-(

    As a musician friend of mine says: "The bishop's bum boys" :-)

    1. As an independent why do you care??

    2. I care because its hurting many good people and making some very good priests I know more unhappy than before.

      Is it wrong to care?

    3. When I was in Corpus Christi parish Stechford Birmingham my P P Frank Dudley told me he could not understand the logic of many concelebrants at a funeral. When I came to Sligo it was all hands on deck for each and every one. Peoples importance was often measured by "the number of priests on the altar" Sean

  12. My mother often commented on this foul and unfair system of funeral offerings. She was a native of rural Donegal where the PP would pronounce the funeral offerings at mass beginning with the local doctor,business types, Garda sergeant followed by all the other minions. She often said she was sickened by one particular funeral where the deceased was the father of a large but impoverished family the youngest of whom was but a baby in arms. There was a " big offering" which was promptly trousered by the PP. After a few days my mother and her sister went to see the PP to see if it would be possible to get some financial help for the poor widow and her children. Help was declined. My mother was so incensed by the lack of charity of the priest that she gave him his character and from that day never entered a Catholic church again

    1. What a woman of principle - especially in those days.

  13. That parish priest seems to come from the same school of thinking as a parish priest who refused the burial of a local parishioner in our parish in the 50's because the poor soul took his own life due to depression. He left a wife and six young children. The shame felt by the widow and her young family, some of whom were taunted in the school playground about their fathers funeral,left a terrible mental and emotional scar on the young mother. She became a recluse and turning to alcohol lasted a mere 5 years after her husband before dying. When I see many of the clergy in this diocese being exposed for the hypocrisy they are guilty of and see that over 80% of people have cottoned on to all their crap and nonsense I am filled with delight. I was the second youngest of that poor family.

    1. I am truly sorry for everything you suffered and totally understand you being delighted that those who hurt you are experiencing "karma" of some kind.

      I hope your wounds are healing?

  14. When I read here of peoples' turning away from catholicism it often seems to reflect negative experience from an RC cleric. Isn't it somewhere in the new testament, "By their deeds or fruits you shall know them"?
    One such negative experience was certainly a catalyst for me.
    He was the typical inner city PP in 1978.Still following my cradle catholic upbringing, having been away all day on a trip I went to his Sunday night mass where his sermon was the greatest load of sh$$e I'd ever heard.
    I went round to vestry afterwards and asked, very politely I assure you, if he could clarify or explain. (Can't for the life of me remember either his sermon or my queries!)
    But I can certainly remember his tirade of personal abuse that I should dare to question him!
    It came as a shock, for at that time I was used to going to the university chaplaincy where the Jesuit chaplain encouraged we students in regular debates.
    So began my drift away.
    So you "oul PPs and CCs" out there still living in the delusion that you will automatically be given deference, while that may have been true 50 years ago, it certainly isn't with today's more educated questioning younger people who simply vote with their feet.

    1. To3tally agree. An experience with a RC priest was also the catalyst for me. Caused me to question everything about my faith and to come to the realisation that I did not want to worship a 'Catholic' God!! There is no recognition of the harm these so-called shepherds do and a big part of the RC problem is that they just ignore the wounded sheep which further alienates them. There should be a much more effective vetting process for men joining the priesthood - better to have no priest than one that causes such harm.
      Saddened previous R&C Parishioner

  15. Dear Pat,

    I want to acknowledge the fact that you do care about the church, and the Priests who serve in it. Sadly I do not sense that genuine concern or compassion in Bishop Treanor, whose life more & more resembles that of a wealthy CEO, cut off physically & emotionally from his "workforce & customers". Such a situation never ends well !

    Priest of Down & Connor.

    1. Thank you for acknowledging that. I do care about Christ's Church - even and especially the part of it that is "RC".

      At the same time I reserve the right to be highly critical of those in it who are faithless, cynical and downright nasty.

      I cannot understand Noel Treanor. But it seems to me that he is not a PASTOR. If a bishop is not at heart a pastor then things become very sad and scary.

  16. I know that C of E in Manchester Is looking at how parishes work and at a way of best using resources to hand. R C in Ireland can call the structures what they like but is the relationship with the people and credibility with the people that needs working on. In our (RC) parish there is a married Anglican Priest who is now R C. I have never met the man. Seems to me the local padre is keeping him quiet. The Main man is in the local paper at every opportunity. No sign of No 2 son. I also know that C o E recognises my ordination as valid but if an Anglican priest becomes R C he has to be re ordained. That being said I am aware there is an Anglican parish in Manchester that has passed a resolution not to have women vicars. Sean

    1. I think that the People of Good should choose their pastor. But also the people need prayerful leadership to come to an understanding that a good pastor does not need to have male genitals!

  17. While I can see that many of the blogs have wandered away from the main thread-the slow but steady demise of D&C diocese- I acknowledge that many of the contributors have indicated what urged them on to be part of the circa 80% who have said enough is enough. I can see what the bishop is trying to do. He and his inner circle are trying to apply a simple business model of rationalisation of resources in order to achieve economies of scale. That works when you have management who have the respect of employees and have authority to order them to follow the new path being laid down. However when the bosses don't enjoy the respect of the workers( priests) and have no authority over the punters(parishioners) then the whole exercise is doomed to failure. Somewhere down the road a scapegoat will be sacrificed for the failure. Good job whizz is away to Derry. Lol

    1. The blogger has wondered you mean.