Athea Drama Group

Thanks to the large crowd who supported our fundraising performance night on March 11th. As a result of your generosity and the efforts of our cast and crew a total of €2,500 was donated to Áras Mhuire Nursing Home Listowel and Brú Columbanus in Cork with each charity receiving a cheque for €1,250. Pictured are Tom O’Keeffe (on behalf of Brú Columbanus) and Amina Parkes (on behalf of Áras Mhuire Nursing Home Listowel) accepting the cheques from chairman Lal Browne.

We are delighted to announce that the pretending isn’t over yet! Following sell out performances and rave reviews, Athea Drama Group will make the journey across the border on Saturday night, March 24th to perform ‘Pretend Sick’ at Rockchapel Community Centre in aid of St. Peter’s Ladies Juvenile Club. This will be a first for Athea Drama Group and a performance we are all very much looking forward to. Not to be missed! Curtains up at 8.30pm.

Knockdown Vintage Club & Estuary Macra

Will take place on Sunday next, 25th March. There will be a Fundraising Raffle in aid of local causes in  The Knockdown Arms afterwards at 6pm.

Athea Tidy Towns

Tickets are selling well for our upcoming fashion show on Wednesday March 28th at Con Colbert Hall at 8pm. Tickets can be purchased at Brouder’s Shop or Collins Shop Athea or from any member of the committee. Featuring all local models, the show itself will showcase the latest trends (Men’s, Women’s and Children’s) from all the top boutiques from West Limerick and North Kerry, and will be preceded by a cheese and wine reception. Judges will also be on the lookout for the best dressed lady on the night, with some lovely prizes up for grabs.

We will also be taking part in Team Limerick Clean Up on Good Friday March 30th. Bags and equipment will be provided. Anyone interested in getting involved are asked to meet at the Hall at 9am for registration. We are also asking anyone out there with litter pickers to please bring them along on the morning. This has been well supported on previous years with each approach road to the village/townland being attended to.  Any enquiries please phone 087 9042477.

Ongoing projects at the moment include finalising plaque wording for Athea Heritage Trail, Purchase of Self Watering Hanging Baskets for the Bridge, Reinstallation of the Mural next to Mullanes and the erection of Wildlife Signage near the bridge area.  Keep an eye on our facebook page for updates!

Time for Change

Domhnall de Barra

Mary McAleese, the former President of Ireland, was in the news again last week after she described the Catholic Church as “an empire of misogyny.”   Misogyny means hatred of women and although the comment was a bit over the top, it succeeded in getting her the attention she wanted. It was interesting to note that, in the interviews on radio and TV that followed, nearly all the clerics agreed with the main drift of her argument while lay people, women in particular, were more inclined to disagree. Now, Mary McAleese is no church basher. She is a practicing Catholic who has studied Canon Law, indeed she is far more qualified on the subject than most priests. She wants to shock the Church into making the changes that may save it in the long run. It is a fact that it is in decline, especially in this country, and if some changes are not made it will eventually die. It is ruled by men, mostly elderly, who steadfastly refuse to countenance the ordination of women or  married men. Twenty three years ago, on the occasion of our silver jubilee, Noreen and myself went on a trip to Lourdes. It was her idea and I wasn’t looking forward to it but, to my surprise, I really enjoyed the visit and was moved by some of the things I saw. At one of the Masses, it was outdoors, a priest from the Limerick diocese gave a sermon promoting the idea of women priests. I thought he was quite brave at the time to go against his superior’s thinking but he was genuinely worried about the future, even at that time. He spoke about the qualities women might bring to the ministry and asked the question: “when we were young and in trouble who did we go to for help; our father or our mother”. It made me think about the whole thing and I have been a supporter of the idea ever since. Apart from physical strength, women are as good, and better in most cases, than men, especially when it comes to emotional problems. They have a gift that no man has; the ability to create life from within their own bodies and they will do whatever is necessary to make sure that life has the best chance in the world. As priests, I think they would have a greater understanding of family problems than men who have been segregated from women for years before being ordained.  There is also a case to be made for allowing priests to be married. Surely, if someone is to minister to a flock made up mostly of families they would have a greater knowledge and insight into problems that may arise if they had practical experience themselves. We already have married priests in England. The priest who said the funeral Mass for my aunt Nora in Coventry, a few years ago, is married. He had converted from the Church of England and was allowed to maintain his married status.  Quite a few, like him, have converted and are doing a great job in their parishes.  Why then can’t any priest that wants to be married be allowed to do so?  I don’t think Jesus ever had celibacy in mind as a condition for the priesthood; indeed his first representatives on earth were married men. Man-made law can, and should, be changed, especially to adapt to a changing world. The family that exists today is far different to those of yesteryear when there was no divorce and people made the best, or the worst, of their lot for life. Now, divorce is a reality and many Catholics are re-married. Though they may want to, they are not allowed to take the sacraments. The same applies to gay marriage. Like it or not, it is a reality of our times and we must recognise that these people are created by God and are not “sinners” in any respect. The Church has problems, the biggest one being the intransigent views of the Church elders who are totally against any change. On the ground, priests are doing their level best  but are finding it difficult in the face of declining vocations and falling numbers. Where once there were two or three in a parish, we now have a situation where one priest may have as many as three parishes to look after. How long before there aren’t enough to go around?  We are lucky here in Athea that we have a great priest like Fr. Brendan in residence but, if changes are not made, the day will come when there won’t even be a church in the parish and nobody wants to see that.