The reality of the Irish Church

On the day that the papal nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Charles Brown, told the US-based Catholic News Service that he saw “that Irish Catholicism had entered a new springtime,” representatives of the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) were trying to convince a group of Irish bishops that the Irish Catholic Church was facing, among other things, a vocational crisis of enormous magnitude.

Archbishop Brown said that young Irish seminarians he met at St Patrick’s College, the national seminary in Maynooth, and in Rome, showed a “renewed enthusiasm for their faith”. That may well be true, but the numbers are miniscule.

Figures on the bishops’ own website show the age profile of Irish priests. Over 65 per cent of Irish priests are aged 55 or over.

There are only two priests under the age of 40 in the Archdiocese of Dublin.

A priest in Killala diocese, Fr Brendan Hoban, pointed out that there has been a priest and celebration of the Eucharist in his parish –Moygownagh – since the eighth century.

But he believes he will be that last priest in that parish.

At the moment there is a priest in every parish in Killala. Within 20 years there will be seven serving 22 parishes spread out over a wide area. The situation is much same in other dioceses.

The research points out that to maintain the status quo would mean ordaining 82 priests each year.

The reality is that 20 students entered Maynooth in September 2013. It is likely that only 10 or 12 will be ordained in 2020. Continue reading.

Seán McDonagh is a Columban missionary priest, well known author and speaker, and a spokesman for the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland.

Source: Tablet Blog

Image: Percy French Festival

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