A PRIEST is to celebrate weekday Masses in a small meeting room instead of his chapel – in an effort to save money.
Mass-goers in Crusheen, Co Clare, attended regular Mass in the new venue for the first time last week.
The new arrangement has been launched on a trial basis by parish priest Fr Ger Nash, who hopes to make "substantial" savings on the church's annual heating bill.
He confirmed that only Tuesday and Thursday services will be moved under the new arrangement – with all weekend Masses staying in the main chapel.
These weekday services are generally attended by elderly parishioners, who are more susceptible to cold and flu during the winter.
Friday morning service at Crusheen church will continue in the main chapel as it is attended by local schoolchildren.
The new system will be operated on a trial basis until March or April.
"We get between a dozen or two dozen people attending Mass during the week so we decided, for economic reasons, to move these Masses to a cosy meeting room towards the back of the church," Fr Nash said.
"It can take around two hours of heat before the main chapel is warmed up, but this room is nice and cosy in about 15 minutes. We are starting this on a trial basis for Tuesday and Thursday Masses and we will see how it goes from there. We have never tried anything like this before. With the price of oil at the moment this could make a difference. Even just for two days (each week) the cost savings by the end of the year could be substantial."