Northern Ireland

Ballymena: Romanian priest takes cleaning job to make ends meet

Fr Cornel Clepea Image copyright Fr Cornel Clepea
Image caption Fr Cornel Clepea leads prayer services for a small congregation of about 20 people in Ballymena every Sunday

A priest who moved to Northern Ireland from Romania is working part time as a cleaner because he does not earn enough to support himself through ministry.

Fr Cornel Clepea, a Romanian Orthodox priest based in Ballymena, County Antrim, works five days a week as a cleaner in a meat slaughterhouse.

On weekends, he ministers to a small congregation of Romanian immigrants, performing baptisms and other services.

He said the practice of clerics taking another job was becoming "usual".

"The world is changing," he told the BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme.

Image copyright Fr Cornel Clepea
Image caption The priest said he tries to enjoy both his ministry and his job in an abattoir

Fr Clepea usually works for three hours in the slaughterhouse each weekday.

'Very difficult'

Cleaning an abattoir might be a world away from his vocation to care for the spiritual needs of his flock, but the priest said he tries to enjoy his dual role.

"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 said.

"I understood that I must love everything that I must do - and I do," he added.

The priest leads prayer services for a small congregation of about 20 people every Sunday.

He relies on the Catholic Church in Ballymena for a venue to perform his ministry.

Although the Catholic Church and Roman Orthadox Church are separate Christian denominations, Fr Clepea has been granted the use of a meeting room in Ballymena's Catholic Parish Centre for his church services.

'Worker priest'

He also lodges with Catholic clergy at the nearby All Saints Church.

Image copyright © Lisa Jarvis/CC Geograph
Image caption The Romanian Orthodox priest relies on the generosity of clergy at All Saints' Catholic Church in Ballymena who allow him to use their buildings to perform services

Catholic parish priest Fr Patrick Delargy told Good Morning Ulster that Fr Clepea was a "true example of a worker priest".

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

"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."

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