Diocese of Tuam, Killala & Achonry
Rt. Revd. Patrick Rooke
Welcome – and thank you for taking time to visit our diocesan website. I hope you find it informative and interesting.
The united diocese of Tuam, Killala and Achonry covers all of County Mayo, much of Counties Galway and Sligo and a small portion of County Roscommon. Geographically it forms one of the largest dioceses in the Church of Ireland but numerically is the smallest with fewer than two thousand parishioners spread across nine parochial cures. There are thirty churches attended and cared for by loyal and devout congregations.
To the south of the diocese is the large and vibrant city of Galway. Its cosmopolitan population ensures a healthy mix of faith communities who work closely together. The ancient Collegiate Church of St Nicholas in the heart of the city has a fine musical tradition and hosts many community services and events.
By contrast, most of the diocese is rural with the majority of the Church of Ireland population resident along the north-Mayo and Sligo coast. In the summer months, visitors from around the world arrive in large numbers to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ and its surrounding landmarks such as Connemara and Croagh Patrick. Others come for the excellent fishing on the West’s lakes and rivers.
All who choose to take the opportunity to join the small local Church of Ireland congregation for Sunday worship are made most welcome; indeed their attendance brings encouragement and support to resident parishioners. Further generous support and co-operation is given by neighbouring Roman Catholic congregations with whom we are always pleased to work and worship.
Statement by the Right Reverend Patrick Rooke, Bishop of Tuam, Killala and Achonry on the forthcoming Referendum.
As the Referendum on the Eighth Amendment draws near, each of us with the right to vote should be thinking carefully and responsibly about the issues involved. These are complex and difficult.
The Referendum itself is about whether to repeal Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution, known as the Eighth Amendment. It gives equal rights to the mother and her unborn child; only permitting an abortion when the life of a pregnant woman is at risk. Should a ‘Yes’ vote prevail, then the Oireachtas will be given the powers to decide on what legislation is necessary. The Church of Ireland has, for many years, argued that this is not a matter for the Constitution but for legislators.
The memory of what happened to Savita Halappavanar in Galway five-and-a-half years ago looms large in many people’s minds in the West of Ireland. That a young woman lost her life unnecessarily is both tragic and shocking. Equally, the fact that so many women are forced to travel to England and Wales for terminations of pregnancies or acquire abortion pills on the internet, says little for a mature 21st century Ireland.
The dilemma, however, is that the Government seems set on linking a ‘Yes’ vote with its proposal to allow for unrestricted supervised abortion, albeit after medical consultation, in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. This is much less restrictive than we would have hoped and expected.
As things stand, this is a referendum in which there will be no winners. Either result will mean that the most defenceless in our society, vulnerable mothers and the unborn, will continue to suffer. May each of us vote according to our conscience, considering prayerfully the serious implications of the choice that is before us on Friday 25th May.