‘Sympathy’ cards cause confusion

People looking for Mass cards are mistakenly buying expensive sympathy cards

People are mistakenly buying expensive sympathy cards under the impression that they are purchasing pre-signed Mass cards according to a Co. Limerick priest.

Sympathy cards, which look very similar to Mass cards and even list the name of a ‘celebrant’ were allegedly found mistakenly for sale under the sign ‘Signed Mass Cards on Sale Here’ in a local shop by Fr Alphonsus Cullinan, parish priest in Rathkeale, Co. Limerick, until the error was pointed out.

Fr Cullinan said the confusion among parishioners was understandable given the use of “the image of the chalice, missal and candle on the front of the cards, and by the use of the word ‘celebrant’ on the inside”.

“Celebrant is only used in conjunction with a sacrament when in fact the donor’s intentions only form part of the prayers of a ‘Catholic Missionary priest’,” he said.


The cards are sold by Hughes Religious Designs based in Longford. They are signed by a Rev. T Dowling and the back of the cards states that “part of the proceeds from the sale of these cards are donated monthly to worldly projects”. When contacted by this paper, David Hughes refused to reveal the religious congregation Fr Dowling belongs to, the country he is based in or how much of the proceeds from sales go to the missions.

The back of the sympathy cards state that they “comply fully with the Charities Bill 2009” which banned the sale of pre-signed Mass cards without the permission of a bishop or head of a religious congregation.

To avoid confusion about Mass cards, Fr Eamon Aylward SSCC, Acting National Director of World Missions Ireland advised “all people of good faith to approach your local priest if you would like to have a Mass celebrated and where possible, attend that Mass yourself”.

“This is the ideal scenario. If that is not possible, then write or phone a priest you know and ask him to help you. We here at World Missions Ireland would be happy to assist in any way that we can,” he told The Irish Catholic.