Sunday, 22 May 2016

THE ORATORY, LARNE

THE ORATORY, LARNE.

THE ORATORY, LARNE

Quite a number of Blog readers have been asking recently about what kind of ministry happens here at The Oratory in Larne where I live and from where I minister as an independent and catholic priest and bishop.

Some have asked the question out of sincere curiosity. Some have asked for positive reasons. And some have asked to disparage me and what I do from here.

The Oratory is a simple chapel which was created out of a double garage that used to house the curates of Larne.I am very happy that we worship in a small simple building. In fact I reminded the Sunday congregation here last Sunday - on the Feast of Pentcost - that the Christian Church began in a simple upper room in a building in Jerusalem not unlike our little Oratory. 

And occasionally when members of The Irish Travelling Community come here to get married they say to me: "Father, your chapel is very small". With a smile I reply: "Yes it is - like the stable Jesus was born in and like the caravan you were born in". 
A recent Irish Traveller wedding
The early Christian Community had no churches. They met in each other's homes for the "Breaking of the Bread" and went to worship in the Jewish Temple. 

Don't get me wrong. I admire all the fine churches there are around the world and love to visit them. But the bottom line is that the CHURCH is where two or three are gathered together in the name of the Lord.

Every Sunday at 12 noon that "church" meets together here in the Larne Oratory.

Since I launched The Oratory Society in 1986 - 30 years ago this year - we have conducted over 3,000 weddings either at The Oratory in Larne or at other venues far and wide. I have travelled to celebrate wedding in Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, the USA, Canada and Lithuania. 

Wedding in Lithuania for a British groom and a Lithuanian bride. 
Some of my weddings were for ordinary Catholic couples. Some were for mixed religion couples. Some were for divorced Catholics and Protestants.

For 30 years I have also celebrated Blessing Ceremonies for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. 

Recent Belfast Castle blessing for a couple from the US.
I have also celebrated hundreds of Baptism ceremonies at The Oratory and in people's homes. 

Thankfully in that 30 years we have had no more than about 20 funerals. In fact today I broke off from writing this Blog in order to receive a body into The Oratory and the Funeral Mass will be tomorrow at lunch time. Please pray for Peter's eternal happiness and the comforting of those he leaves behind.

Of course religious ceremonies are only part of what a priest or a chapel is all about. Those ceremonies and prayers have to be acted out everyday in pastoral work with people.

Here at The Oratory we engage in pastoral work like:

Providing food to a local homeless shelter.

Three of us volunteer at a local Macmillan cancer centre. Personally I volunteer every Friday and also drive patients for their chemotherapy at different times of the month. 

Giving / arranging emergency accommodation for homeless people.

Work with people addicted to alcohol and drugs.

I run a ministry called BETHANY for women (and the occasional man) who has been hurt through a relationship with a priest.

I represent people at industrial and health tribunals. 

I run a personal citizen's advice service for people who need advice on benefits and forms.

I have written 3 books that are available on Amazon and Kindle - FAITH AND FATHERLAND; A THORN IN THE SIDE and A SEXUAL LIFE - A SPIRITUAL LIFE and am just finishing a 4th.




I wrote newspaper columns in The Sunday News (Belfast); The News of the world (Dublin) and the homelessness magazine The Big Issue.


News of the World


If my ministry here has any particular theme it is the theme of Caring for the Black Sheep - hence my Christmas card this year:






I have nicknamed myself - The Black Shepherd for the Black Sheep.

My ministry and the ministry of The Oratory Society is summed up in words spoken by Pope John Paul XX111. I placed those words on my Ordination Card 40 years ago in 1976 and they still have resonance for me today.



By the way - this Blog represents only my own personal views and statements and does not represent the views and statements of any other person.

Having said that, my door is open 24.7 to anyone who wishes to arrive here or call upon me.

I do not take a day off. Why would I? My priesthood is a joy and not a burden. It does not stress or tire me. My life and my priesthood as as a seamless robe. 

If I go to the pub for a pint I am still a priest. If I go out for a meal I am still a priest. 

I take a week's holidays in January and October but do not leave my vocation behind me. 


On a recent holiday
Some silly people out there think all I do is write this Blog. This Blog takes up very little of my time and I so all the above all the rest of the time. 

I hear priests complaining about being busy and having to say 3 Masses on a Sunday. That's not exactly like 8 hours on a building site is it?




I'm 64 and if needed I could say 10 Masses on a day and run a few parishes.

I think that we priests have very handy lives as compared to many others - who do hard physical graft everyday, look after a wife and family, worry about mortgages and bills, live with the fear of unemployment etc. 

Mass is not a graft. It is a prayer. It is a spiritual event and if a labour at all it should be a labour of love!

46 comments:

  1. I think Pat has just admitted only 2 or 3 people turn up for mass.

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    1. Dear Cynic, I do not know where you got that number. It is way off.

      In any event I say Mass. Its not about numbers. I think you must be thinking of Bingo :-)

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  2. I actually recall someone telling me the scandal of Newry Parish Centre. As other people on this blog are from Newry they can perhaps clarify. As I understand the Diocese purchased a former nightclub on the Mall, Newry for a large sum. I think it was over 1 million. They lobbied the parishioners in Newry to give, give, give for this excellent asset to the Parish. I was in it just after it opened. Very modern and clearly a lot of money spent on it. It had appropriately themed rooms like John Paul II room etc. Well, I am told that no sooner was the ribbon cut than all the Catholic themed room names were changed. The Catholic art including a painting of John Paul II which I did see myself was banished to the broom cupboard and the entire building was renamed "Newry Conference and Banqueting Centre". It seems it was quite the scandal at the time. Newry parishioners were told to cough up for a Parish Centre and when they did, they got a Conference Centre. Is this the main jist of the tale? Am I missing any details?

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    1. The Catholic clergy when they are asking for money from the ejits in the pews say: "ITS FOR YOUR USE. IT'S YOURS".

      When the thing is paid for they say:

      "IT IS OURS".

      And the ejits keep giving and giving and ...........

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    2. Anonymous (17.56) you haven't quite got the facts correct. Pat, I'm disappointed that you make a judgement and post that comment without confirming the full facts. As I recall there was no fundraising campaign. The diocese already had the money in a fund for "Capital Projects" I think they call it. Where this money came from I am not sure although I am certain at its origin was with parishioners. I can't remember the cost but I am certain it was substantially more than 1 million. I do remember there was such controversy over the Parish Centre that Canon Francis Brown was forced to explain and defend the project in the bulletin. That was when he explained how it would be funding. It seems that a lot of people had made it clear that parishioners neither needed or wanted the Parish Centre. Everything else you say is correct. No sooner had it opened than it was de-Christianised and renamed Newry Conference and Banqueting Centre. It has been a bit of a flop. They had planned to rent it as a wedding reception venue but I've never heard of any taking place. Not longer after it was de-Christianised, the industrial kitchens that were fitted out to the hilt with top quality equipment were cleared out and sold (I am sure at a fraction of the price). It seems to be a total white elephant. I think very few, if any events, are held there. There were a number of parish events that took place at the start but I'm not aware of any taking place since it was turned into the conference centre. I don't know if that is because it is being run as a business and is now charging the community or not. Please confirm this Pat before you pass comment on speculation. One thing is sure, it has turned from a vanity project to a total white elephant. Another example of John McAreavey's poor leadership. No wonder the diocese is always pleading poverty when this is what they spend their money on.

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    3. Thank you. The piece about Newry was written by a correspondent and not me.

      Maybe somebody who knows will clarify.

      McAreavy obviously wanted to be a bishop. But maybe its not the pleasant life he envisaged?

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    4. The only thing from above that I don't know for a fact is whether the conference centre charges parishioners to use it. As for McAreavey. I'm sure he makes sure it is a pleasant life. he guy is so lazy and uninterested in the diocese beyond getting free dinners and getting his face in the paper. He is dreadful. No dromore diocese laity or priest will tell you any different.

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  3. Pat, do you have collections at Mass and do you take stipends?

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    1. I do not have collections during Mass but people are free to make an offering leaving Mass.

      Yes I do take stipends.

      I have no salary from anyone or any place.

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  4. Do you have many attendants at mass? I would love to attend a service but larne is quite a distance for me to travel. What times are they?

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    1. Thankyou Pat

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    2. Your welcome and if you drop in some Sunday you will be made 100% welcome.

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    3. You only do one mass on a Sunday? Wow! Talk about taking it easy! You say you would do ten masses a day lol. But you actually only do one? Wow! I'd say its a cushy life compared to Roman Catholic priests.

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    4. Well I'm available to help any priest who feels overstreched.

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    5. I'm sure you are Pat. But the problem is that, as you say your self; You are not Roman Catholic. How could the Roman Catholic Church ask you to do anything any more than they would ask a Free Presbyterian to help out? Seriously, do you really believe you could do anything to help?

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    6. True, I am not a card carrying member of the Roman Empire Mk 11.

      The most important thing in life is to be a good person, doing all the good you can and the least amount of harm.

      After that, if you have faith, be spiritual and have a good relationship with God.

      "The most important part of a good mab's life are his little, unremembered acts of kindness abd of love". (William Wordsworth)

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    7. If the only qualification to say mass was being a good and holy person there would be no shortage, Pat. Not sure how you think that a non Roman Catholic could carry out the duties of a Roman Catholic priest, especially when you have rejected the Roman Catholic Church and attack it at every chance. Do you seriously think you would be anymore acceptable to help out in the Roman Catholic Church than you would to stand in for a Free P minister? lol.

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    8. PAT YOU SHOULD GET ON TO BELFAST SYNAGOGUE AND MOSQUE! IF YOU CAN DO MASSES WITHOUT BEING RC, THEN WHY WOULDN'T YOU BE ABLE TO HANDLE MUSLIM CALLS TO PRAYER OR WHATEVER IT IS JEWS DO IN TEMPLE.

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    9. The RC Church law says that I am still a valid priest and my Masses are valid. You do not know what you are talking about sadly.

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    10. But you no longer profess yourself to be a Roman Catholic. So how could you expect to be allowed charge of a Roman Catholic congregation. Why would you want to perform the duties in a church you don't believe in. Why would you think you would ever be allowed. Norglen Nora.

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  5. I admire your work ethic. As you say some priests keep complaining about their workload. So precious. If they have a couple of weddings or funerals to perform they'll be wanting a holiday abroad. And extremely well paid for the amount of effort expended. It's a mollycoddled existence.

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  6. Bishop McAreavery is a pretty decent man as far as bishop's go in Ireland. It is very obvious he is way out of his depth in leadership and more importantly in 'stewardiship' of the Diocese of Dromore! Dromore is dying but Rome refuses to see this as do many PP's in Dromore also many good decent people of Dromore - sad...sad...very SAD!

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    1. I did not realise that things were so bad in Dromore :-(

      That's what you get when you have a canon lawyer bishop.

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    2. When I was in Maynooth he was indeed kindly and came across as a decent man. One of the few professors who would acknowledge you. But I suppose kindness and decency aren't the only qualities you need to be a bishop. But it's a start.

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    3. My personal experience of John McAreavy is two fold:

      1. When I was a curate in Kilkeel he and I together led Youth Encounter groups. I found him friendly but reserved.

      2. He gave evidence against me at a couple of court cases. He was a company man and in becoming bishop got a company reward.

      He does not strike me as particularly spiritual or particularly passionate about being a pastor.

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    4. Not much of a reward as things have turned out.
      A poisoned chalice more like.

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    5. Of course he spouted Canon Law. He's a lawyer. He's dedicated his life to knowing the word of the law, he doesn't know anything about the spirit of the law.

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    6. Well, Pat. I can't say I agree with you on much, but on this issue I agree. He is about as uninspiring as he can get. I remember he came to a youth event when I was younger. He practically ignored us until the Newspapers arrived and then he suddenly felt the urge to be surrounded by us and craic jokes. We were instantly fascinating. But as soon as the photo was taken he cleared off without a bye or leave. I think his biggest problem is he isn't interested in people which is a shame. A bishop should love his flock and a Christian should be full of zeal for spreading the faith. He doesn't seem to have either. Dromore Diocese has so much potential. He could have set it alight with evangelism but he doesn't seem to be bothered. It funny that Pat is so critical of Eamon Martin because we are so envious of Armagh. They have loads of initiatives and stuff going on. Dromore has nothing - unless it's all being held in secret.

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    7. I think he was made bishop because he wrote some book on Canon Law that towed the party line. I wouldn't say it's a poisoned chalice. I don't think Dromore had the same historical abuse issues or cover ups that other dioceses have had to deal with, as far as I know. I'd say it's a cushy number and he has made the most of it. I remember he spent a pure fortune totally renovating the bishop's palace. It's the same old thing. The diocese is utterly skint - but yet they always seem to find the money from somewhere when there is something they want.

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    8. Pat. Are you able to divulge what allegations he made against you in court? I wouldn't have even thought he would know you. You were in D & C and he was in Maynooth.

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    9. I think it is absolutely incredible that we have so many amazing priests in Dromore Diocese - I mean truly great priests - but Rome chose to totally over look them in favour of a book worm like John McAreavey. I'm sure he was an excellent Canon Lawyer but he was never going to be a man of the people. Spend 5 minutes in his company and you get the measure of him. And he comes up very short. Dromore definitely deserves better. (Theresa, Banbridge)

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    10. Anonymous (10.56). He may well have been a nice man when he lectured in Maynooth. I agree that kindness and decency are a great start for being bishop. The problem is John McAreavey must have started about 15 years ago so if it hasn't become evident by now, its hardly likely to. It's news to me that Dromore will amalgamate with Armagh when he goes. Is this for definite?

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    11. No John McAreavy made no allegations in court about me. He was there as a canon lawyer to prove priests were bot employees and therefore had no employment rights.

      He was there to shore up the hierarchy and to earn his mitre.

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  7. He gave a radio/tv interview some years back about celibacy. He came across as most unconvincing and uninspiring. Just platitudes and spouting off canon law. It sounded as if he didn't really believe what he was saying himself. Company man is right. Just putting in the time before retirement.

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    1. You've no idea. I know people who will see Bishop McAreavey come out on the altar in Newry Cathedral and sneak out and go to another mass. There is no love for him. I saw that interview on the front of the Newry Reporter when he came back from his holiday. Personally I think he knew people (including the priests) were pissed off. This rubbish about realising the priests were over worked and the laity needed to play a role was just trying to negate the negative feelings towards him. That must have been 2 or 3 years ago and if he did genuinely come to that conclusion he definitely hasn't done a single thing to act on it.

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    2. My two cents on John McAreavey would be he is lazy/indifferent. That is without question. He is also incredibly weak minded. Speaking as someone formerly involved in Newry Parish, it seems a small kabal of lay people seem to have influence with the bishop and have free reign to build their own little kingdoms. They try to control everything and when they can't they run to the bishop to get his "authority" (yeah. I laughed when the wrote that word) behind them. If they still can't control they destroy. I've seen several initiatives attempted in Newry Parish by good hearted lay members that this kabal attempted to seize control over and often succeed. When they do get control they seem to either run it into the ground or else lose interest once the opposition have been driven out and the thing dies. If they can't get control of it they will do everything they can to destroy it. I've seen it time and time again in Newry Parish. Canon Brown in Newry is just as weak. He seems to have allowed these monsters to grow until they have become uncontrollable and the whole parish is dictated by 2 or 3 controlling members of the laity (I won't name them, but I have no doubt people in Newry Parish would know exactly who I am talking about). So I don't think the problem is just indifference. It is also weakness of character on the part of the bishop and also the priests in Newry that mean we have little of no evangelization or faith development. And it's not because there aren't lay people who want it badly. It's because of the authority of a small number of laity who see any attempt to bring new people into the church as a threat to their own self appointed positions.


      So I wouldn't blame Bishop McAreavey for not evangelizing. he does allow it. Unfortunately

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  8. He is DREADFUL!

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  9. Well, the Rasharkin congregation have been well and truly put in their place. And it would seem my nom-de-plume - "Rent-a-priest" - is very apt.

    Announcements in parish bulletin for past coupla weeks "Until further notice,

    urgent sick calls are to be directed to Fr Blayney in Dunloy, home number supplied, if you cannot contact him, you are to keep trying until you get him {seriously??!};

    Weekday funerals will be at noon. Fr McCullough (portstewart), mobile no. supplied, to officiate on Mon/Tues/Wed. Fr Brendan Mulhall, home no. given to officiate on Thurs/Fri/Sat. Sun funerals to take place at 11am Mass;

    Baptisms to take place after 11am Sun Mass once a month by arrangement with Fr A McNally, Dunloy {What if there is a funeral??} Forms to apply for baptism to be collected in sacristy, filled-in and returned to sacristy to be dealt with.;

    weddings - arrangements and paperwork to be administered by Fr Francis O'Brien Ballymoney, home no. given;

    general enquiries, phone Rasharkin parochial house and leave a message, or send an email."


    NOT ACCEPTABLE BISHOP TREANOR.


    For years, Rasharkin parish was totally in the black, financial-wise, and this is what they get in return. Sod all. Nothing. For years, Rasharkin parish contributed to the central fund to ensure "poorer" parishes were looked after and their priests got some amount to live on. Now Rasharkin has no parish priest and the parish is being left to its own devices. No indication that Fr Murray is coming back. No notion of appointing another permanent priest. Not a word from the bishop.

    Keep an eye firmly on the weekly collection figures. Good people of Rasharkin what do you think you are contributing towards in the current weekly collection? You have no pastoral care, nobody to speak to if you needed counselling, no daily Mass, etc. Will the bishop sit up and take notice when the weekly collection starts to dip??? People who have been used to a daily Mass will only accept a daily Communion service for a while. They will soon start to vote with their feet and go elsewhere for a daily Mass.

    Meanwhile, it would seem that it is Fr Murray's birthday soon. Some Parish members have been seen writing a 75th birthday card for him.


    R-a-P, Rasharkin

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    1. Very, very sad situation for a long term faithful parish like Rasharkin.

      If I can help please let me know.

      Pat

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    2. All this is more than reasonable in the circumstances. How many priests has Rasharkin given the diocese in the last fifty years?

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    3. Could the good people of Rasharkin please refrain from hi-jacking this blog discussion on John McAreavey and the wows of Dromore Diocese? We are far more important than you! LOL. (Joke!)

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  10. Good luck Rasharkin tryin to get mulhall on the fone . He dusnt answer phones or doors he hides and watches from a upstairs window . Although for those who hate funerals his last 15 mins top !

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    1. Pope Francis has given 3 word homilies. It's not about the length, it's the quality. I find it hard to believe a funeral lasts 15 minutes. It often takes longer than that to even get the funeral and mourners into the Church.

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  11. Sounds a good all round Ministry rooted in community-ad multos annos-Any priest who thinks his only job is to say mass needs a boot in the (w)hole like the fictitious Bishop Brennan got on Fr Ted tv show

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  12. It's bad enough that you are damning yourself to hell but you are dragging others along with you.

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