THE PARISHIONERS OF HILLTOWN IN COUNTY DOWN SHOULD BE THE ONES TO DECIDE THE FUȚURE OF THE PAROCHIAL HOUSE THERE WHERE FR. MALACHY FINNEGAN ABUSED AND RAPED YOUNG BOYS.
It now stands as a reminder of the sexual abuse of the hundreds of boys molester by Finnegan.
Many of Finnegan's victims live in Hilltown. Others must drive past it daily.
It, whether we like it or not, is a "monument" to sexual abuse.
If I were the new PP of Hilltown I would not like to live in that house.
How can parishioners go there to arrange baptisms, weddings and funerals without sensing the ghost of Finnegan there?
How can couples go there to talk to a priest about their problems or to have Mass Card signed?
It is a house that is totally stained by the memory of the loss of innocence that happened there.
No cleric, including a new bishop of Dromore should make the decision.
That decision should be in the hands of Hilltown's parishioners - the ones who paid for that house to be built in the first place.
My own inclination is that it should be bulldozed and a memorial stone to Finnegan's victims be erected there - with a LET US NEVER FORGET message on it.
There are bound to be houses for sale in the parish that the diocese could purchase for the new PP to live in.
And I say the diocese because the parishioners of Hilltown should not have to pay for the replacement of the Finnegan building. They have suffered and paid enough.
Surely it will even be a challenge for the Hilltown parishioners to attend Mass in the Church where Finnegan once presided at the altar?
Hilltown will need an awful lot of healing.
Who could blame any Hilltown Catholic for never darkening the door of a Catholic church again?
It's easy for the rest of us to say not to blame God for what Finnegan did.
Tell a victim that. Tell a victim's family that.
Any Hilltown Catholic who perseveres in the Catholic faith after all that has happened is to be admired.
I was a bit shocked to hear that the current PP of Hilltown has gone to live in Warrenpoint temporarily.
Is that not the shepherd abandoning the sheep at a dark hour?
Could he not have moved in with a parishioner?
Could he not have put a mobile home in the Church grounds so he could stay with and comfort his people?
Very strange indeed!