We have known for a long time that the drop-off in vocations to the priesthood was going to have a knock-on effect and the shape of things to come around the country was unveiled last week in Kerry.

In a pastoral letter to all 53 parishes outlining his plans for the future, Bishop Bill Murphy announced his intention to share priests between certain parishes in the diocese. Dr. Murphy said some people might view the current situation as a ‘crisis’ and the decline in vocations to the priesthood was a challenge but he believed it should be taken as an opportunity to devise a new approach.

Exact details of his plan will be published at the end of the month but it will result in certain priests being appointed ‘Vicar Forane’ of new pastoral areas and they will be charged with the management of that parish grouping. A support team of other priests and members of the laity will also be assembled to assist the Vicar Forane.

Bishop Murphy called for more cooperation between neighbouring parishes and stressed that his plan would not result in the loss of Masses or other religious services. A priest would no longer be resident in each parish but the plan was designed to ensure that the sacramental needs of each parish was met and that living Christian communities were maintained.

It will be interesting to see how things pan out but there is no doubt big changes are on the way. By necessity, it is likely that some churches will not have Masses every Sunday and a rota may have to be introduced. The Saturday night Mass that satisfies the Sunday obligation may also be extended, especially for the old and infirm.

Diabetes epidemic sweeping the country

Tests taken from visitors at the recent Ploughing Championships in County Kilkenny have shocked doctors and underlined the growing incidence of diabetes in our population.

Many people in the medical profession believe that diabetes is now at epidemic level in this country and that was underlined when, out of 2,000 people tested at the free HSE clinic at the championships, over one-hundred were found to have raised blood glucose levels suggesting likely Type II diabetes. One man was found to have such high levels of sugar in his blood that he was immediately rushed to St. Luke’s Hospital as an emergency case.

A spokesperson for the HSE said that most, if not all, of the people who tested positive would be shown to have the disease. A local doctor described the test results as ‘frightening’ and said they were indicative of the diabetes crisis sweeping the country at present.

Diabetes can be asymptomatic which means people should be on their guard because early diagnosis can prevent a whole range of dangerous medical complications.

Ten expensive little fingers

Just one of the many rising costs affecting small businesses was highlighted last week by the owner of a golf course and driving range just outside New Ross on the Enniscorthy road.

Padraig Baily is the proprietor of Scarke Golf Course which has been in operation for eighteen years and he had ten ‘finger-signs’ strategically placed on the road-side to direct customers to his entrance.

He had paid the annual charge of €50 per sign up to December of last year but, this year, the charge went up from €50 per sign to €620 per sign which put up the total price from €500 to €6,200, a year-on-year increase of €5,700.

Mr. Baily informed the local authority that he would not pay the new charge and he was told that he should remove the signs or the County Council would do it for him and that is exactly what happened last week when all ten signs were removed from their positions and returned to him by the local authority

Irish music quota should be introduced for radio

While we are on the subject of business, the music industry in this country is making yet another plea to the government to introduce an ‘Irish’ quota for the music that is played on radio stations.

For many years, Irish singers and bands have been complaining that their CDs are getting very few plays on RTE and on many local stations and I think they have a very reasonable gripe. With the exception of certain specialist programmes, usually broadcast during off-peak hours, Irish artistes are rarely heard on the radio with the possible exception of U2 and The Corrs.

In countries where a national quota was introduced, the recording industries have thrived. For instance, some countries have imposed a 25% quota which means that every fourth CD has to feature a local act, to have been written by local writers or to have been recorded in a local studio. Canada is a prime example of how such quotas have nurtured local talent and I support the idea entirely. There are many talented writers and musicians out there who can’t get a leg on the ladder because radio stations spurn their recordings in favour of computer selected hits with proven customer satisfaction.

All burn and no smoke!

A man stood back from the counter in a city pub over the weekend and took a long, hard drag on a cigarette, so hard that it glowed fiercely and then he appeared to inhale so strongly that not a puff of smoke escaped his lungs.

“Put out that cigarette, you know you can’t smoke in here”, scolded the barman. But the smoker kept on repeating the exercise of taking long, hard drags and deep inhalations.

In the end, the barman came outside the counter to remonstrate with the law-breaker only to be triumphantly shown an electronic ‘cigarette’ that did everything a real cigarette does except burn tobacco. Everybody had a great laugh but I didn’t see the barman smiling and it seemed to me that, for the rest of the night, the practical joker was waiting a long time to be served!

A distinguishing feature

An undertaker, in a place far away from Waterford, was working in his mortuary one night preparing the body of a deceased man for cremation. He could barely stifle a surprised yell when he removed the cover and discovered that the man had the biggest penis he had ever seen in his life.

Even though it was unethical, he succumbed to temptation and surgically removed the man’s penis and preserved it in a large jar. It would be a shame to allow such a specimen to be incinerated, he said to himself.

When he went home that night he called out to his wife and said: “Listen, you are not going to believe what I’m about to show you.” With that, he opened his briefcase and, with a theatrical gesture, produced the jar holding the dead man’s giant organ.

“Arghhhhh”, screamed his wife in anguish, “I didn’t know poor Tommy was dead.”