Pastor's Desk: Fifth Sunday of Easter

Posted 1st May 2010 in Pastor's Desk

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
46 80+ 1916-29 5
119 70-79 1930-39 56
98 60-69 1940-49 82
99 50-59 1950-59 84
70 40-49 1960-69 57
15 30-39 1970-79 13
0 25-29 1980-84 -
447 297

107 priests are in retirement due to ill health and 43 are accounted for here:

Ministry outside Diocese 9
Maynooth 3
Missions 5
Study Leave 3
Leave 7
Sabbatical 2
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.

Fr. Eoin

Consultation re: Sunday Mass schedule for July-August-September

As parishioners are aware, there is a shortage of priests in the diocese at the moment and indeed, there is currently one parish without a resident priest. The difficulty of supplying Masses becomes much more acute during holiday periods and unfortunately, that is the case in which we find ourselves this summer, in this parish. Canon Law permits a priest to say two Sunday Masses each week and three in an exceptional circumstance.

For the month of July we will have two priests available each Sunday, while one takes annual leave. In August, there will be just one priest while the other takes his annual leave and Fr. Donald returns home to South Africa at the end of his appointment here. In September we will have two priests except for the time that Fr. Gary accompanies the Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes which this year will include a Sunday. I am currently looking for assistance for the entire month of August. The reality is that for the three months we need to reduce our Sunday schedule by one Mass. The Saturday 6.30pm Vigil Mass of Sunday is part of our Sunday Mass commitment and will continue as usual. We have four Masses on Sunday itself and need to reduce this number to three. Parishioners will be consulted at all Masses next weekend in relation to this matter.

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