Newry Cathedral Parish has defended its decision to introduce additional surcharges to couples looking to get married and for families looking to bury a loved one.
Earlier this month, Armagh I detailed plans for the Parish to charge newlyweds a £400 fee to help cover costs like heat as weekly collections slump.
It was further revealed, through a letter to local funeral directors – seen by Armagh I – that the Parish were asking funeral directors to ‘negotiate’ new £350 funeral fee from bereaved families.
The introduction of the surcharges garnered a strong response from readers, however, Newry Cathedral Parish has defended the charges saying the “only regular financial income in our parishes comes from Sunday collections, fundraisers and occasional offerings and donations that are made by the faithful” and that “nowadays, this is no longer sufficient to keep our parishes going”.
A Parish spokesperson said: “Our Church buildings are available to everyone at key life stages. This inevitably involves incurring facility costs such as heating, lighting, maintenance of a building, audio system, streaming and such like, as well as the
provision of a sacristan, secretarial and administrative support. These costs have to be met by the parish community and those who avail of our Church facilities.”
On the introduction of the charges for weddings, funeral and baptisms, the spokesperson said: “Like many other parishes throughout the country, we have introduced these contributions to help overcome the major shortfall that the parish has in managing escalating day to day costs associated with our buildings, utilities, maintenance, and administration expenses.
“Newry parish remains in considerable deficit. During the past year we have spent an additional £200,000 on maintenance which was necessary to keep the rain from coming into the Cathedral. All eight churches in St. Brigid’s Deanery need to be maintained constantly and it is costly. The ongoing costs of maintenance are a necessary annual cost which is not met through offertory collections at Mass.
“Our parishes really do depend on offerings made by all who avail of their facilities. We are therefore asking that when someone requests a religious service or a liturgical celebration for a particular sacramental occasion, they would do their best to contribute to the costs that are incurred.
“There is absolutely no question of there ever being a fee or bill for Church services. The Sacraments are extraordinary gifts from God, freely bestowed upon His people. They can never be bought or sold, and your contribution is to ensure that all the facilities are protected and maintained. The parishes will always be mindful of hardship in any individual case.”
The parishes have introduced the following policy: £400 on the occasion of a wedding; £350 on the occasion of a funeral and £20 on the occasion of a baptism.
This policy applies in the parishes of Newry, Saval and Donaghmore.