The Parish of the Travelling people stretches across the length and breath of the Dublin diocese, from Balbriggan to Arklow and over to Athy. There are about 8,000 Travellers in this area. In 1980 the Vincentian Community was asked by the Archbishop of Dublin to respond to the pastoral needs of Travellers throughout the diocese. These needs are physical, emotional and spiritual. We in the parish take a holistic view of the person and community. Today the parish is made up of men and women, Traveller and settled, cleric, lay and religious, working together to create a more inclusive, just and respectful church and society.
Our response to the Traveller community, who are excluded from the Irish society and for whom discrimination is a daily occurrence, is one of solidarity. This relationship of solidarity prompts us to act as an agent of change, working with Travellers to have their rights realised, facilitating their participation within the church and society and in this way contributing to the overall well being of both Traveller and settled communities.
The church plays a very important part in the life of the Traveller community. The key word is relationship. We build up relationships with certain individuals. Priests are very important to our community. They are there for us at times of birth, through our lives and at times of death. A relationship develops with those that are open.The Parish of the Travelling People poses a challenge to local parishes to acknowledge Travellers as people who are as much a part of local parishes as their settled neighbours, and to ensure the participation of its neighbours, both Traveller and settled, in its life and activities.
Archbishop Desmond Connell, 1998