Pastor's Desk: Fifth Sunday of Easter
Greetings all, on this Fifth Sunday of Easter. Today is also PRIESTHOOD Sunday, when we pray for the seminarians currently training for the diocese and pray also for an increase in vocations to the priesthood. As a diocese, we currently have 18 seminarians at various stages of their studies. When I was in Holy Cross College, Clonliffe we had about 80 students in formation. That will tell you the size of the drop in 20 years.
There is no doubt about it but the decline in the number of priests in the diocese is really beginning to be felt. We can see this in our own parish where we are currently down to two fulltime priests in the parish despite the fact that the number of households has increased 100% from 3000 to 6000. Archbishop Martin has a difficult job in appointing fewer priests around parishes that have grown in population. Each year the problem becomes more acute. The following table from the Diocesan Boundaries Commission Report given to the Archbishop last December gives us the stark reality:
|No. of Priests||Age Profile||Year of Birth||No. with Appointments in Diocese|
107 priests are in retirement due to ill health and 43 are accounted for here:
|Ministry outside Diocese||9|
|Out of Ministry (under 75)||14|
While the statistics above show us the problem of providing priests for parishes, the Murphy Report revelations have damaged the morale of priests and the image of Priesthood. If this information was in the open in the 1980’s when I entered Clonliffe I really wonder would I have stayed till ordination. I can only imagine that those who feel a calling to priesthood today are facing a similar question. Let us pray for the renewal of Priesthood in whatever form that needs to take, and for those who are being called to minister as ordained priests.