Irish Times: Clare Island echoes to a new tune as lay services fill gap left by shortage of priests

Interesting article in The Irish Times by Áine Ryan last Sat, 25 Feb 2023.

Since our offshore islands are usually seen as the last bastions of traditional life, you don’t expect to see a woman saying Mass. At least, canonically speaking, leading a church service, in the absence of a priest, which has all the elements of the Mass – other than the ritual transubstantiation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

Neither do visitors expect to attend a Sunday service with a distinctive jazzy timbre to the music, courtesy of a retired Lutheran minister, Dr Jörg Zengel, who has lived on the island for many years. He leads a group of island musicians and singers called Saints and Sinners.

Welcome to Clare Island, Co Mayo, where the community regularly leads church services when a priest is not available to make the voyage from the mainland. This has been the case since the last resident priest left more than two decades ago.

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