Belfast Telegraph

Impoverished priest forced to work in slaughterhouse

By Cate McCurry

A priest in Co Antrim has been forced to take a part-time job as a cleaner in an abattoir because he does not earn enough money to support himself.

Fr Cornelius Clepea, a Romanian Orthodox priest based in Ballymena, works five afternoons a week in the slaughterhouse, alongside his regular duties.

He decided to move to Northern Ireland to care for the spiritual needs of the Romanian population based here.

Every Sunday, he ministers to a small congregation of immigrants and performs baptisms and other services.

When he first he moved to the town, there were times no one attended his sermons, but now around 20 people visit every weekend.

However, his congregation is so small and so poor that Fr Clepea was forced to seek employment at Ballymena Meats, where he works for three hours each weekday afternoon, just to make ends meet.

Despite the second job, the priest, who performs his services at a bare meeting room in the Catholic Parish Centre in the town and lodges with Catholic clergy at the nearby All Saints Church, sees helping immigrant families as his main occupation.

While he admits that members of the clergy taking up another job is "unusual", he said that the world was changing.

"In my opinion, a job must be done with heart and with pleasure, because if not, each kind of job becomes very, very difficult," Fr Clepea told the BBC. "I understand that I must love everything that I must do - and I do."

Catholic priest for the area Fr Patrick Delargy told Good Morning Ulster that Fr Clepea was a "true example of a worker priest" and praised him for his hard work and selflessness.

"Cornelius has studied at a very high level, but he has chosen to come here to Ballymena to work among his Romanian people," he explained.

"He's now doing a very, very different job from what he did before, and I think he is a remarkable person from that point of view."

Belfast Telegraph


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