Mass-goers have been forced to stand outside a church in the Parish of Botha as a result of the changes to Mass times introduced in Clogher Diocese last month.

A large crowd of people had no other option but to stand outside as the church was full to capacity at Sacred Heart Church in Boho on Sunday, it has emerged.

The changes, which were announced at the start of September, have resulted in Masses being held on alternative Sundays at the Boho and Monea Churches, with Derrygonnelly continuing with its weekly service.

There was surprise among parishioners when the changes were announced as there was no consultation with anybody with it being described as a “bombshell” to people in the parish.

The changes to Mass times has resulted in petitions being circulated at services to gather support for the restoration of weekly Masses at the three churches in the Parish of Botha - St. Patricks, Derrygonnelly, Sacred Heart at Boho and Immaculate Conception at Monea.

At Sunday Masses last week a petition was handed out in Boho and Derrygonnelly looking for support to reinstate the three Masses in the Parish.

Some fear it would have a detrimental impact on the Church in the Botha.

A number of Botha parishioners have voiced their concerns with one parishioner saying the reason the petition was circulated was to give parishioners the chance to show the powers that be how they are feeling.

“The feedback from the petitions is that people finally feel they are getting a say when they are signing it,” they said, speaking to this newspaper.

“People really felt this was great and they are happy to be able to do something.

“Even people who were not at Mass were asking for sheets to be sent out to sign them.”

It is expected from the petition at Boho around 400 signatures will be collected while Derrygonnelly is yet to be counted. Monea has yet to circulate the petition with a possibility being for this Sunday.

The petitions will be sent along with a letter to Monsignor McGuinness outlining the reality of how things are working in the parish since the changes, the concerns of parishioners and asking that the weekly Mass which was removed be reinstated.

“It is giving people the first opportunity to say how they are feeling to the powers that be.

“We do not know if it going to do anything but we are going to give it a try.”

There is a fear that the change of times will have a long term affect on the numbers attending each service as well as the “strong sense of community” in the Parish.

It is believed that some parishioners will not attend the alternative Mass as it is not their home church with Monea being possibly the hardest of the three churches hit as they have lost a Vigil Mass that had been going for a number of years.