Priest shortage presents ‘great challenges’ in Ireland

Ireland shortage of priests

The Archbishop of Dublin has acknowledged that his diocese, the largest in Ireland, is facing “great challenges” due to a shortage of priests.

Archbishop Dermot Farrell (pictured) has pledged to respond “positively and swiftly” to new proposals put forward by his parishes to deal with the challenge.

“We face a particular challenge in the shortage of priests to minister to our parish communities — communities which themselves are very different from even one generation ago,” he said.

At Mass in Dublin’s Pro Cathedral he said that, as bishop of the diocese, it was his strong conviction that “we are not called to be passive in the face of changes which imperil the three-fold mission with which we have been entrusted, but together to shape our future in the light of the gospel”.

Archbishop Farrell announced that he is putting in place formation programmes to support those who are willing to undertake leadership and ministry in new ways, working alongside our priests and deacons in the pastoral leadership of our parishes.

He invited women and men who feel called to ministry to train as lectors, acolytes and catechists.

He also pledged to appoint where necessary pastoral leaders – deacons, religious and lay people – when parishes cannot have a resident priest, to support the priest who will have pastoral responsibility for that parish. This voluntary service will be supported by the pastoral workers in the diocese.

“It is my pastoral responsibility as bishop to do this – for the sake of the gospel and for the sake of the People of God. Christ brought his disciples along a new way. He calls us to find a new way in our time.”

He said his call to the diocesan family was to embrace what Pope Francis calls Christian risk.

“It is a call to ensure that the way the Church is organised, our structures or our pastoral certainties, do not restrict our mission in the twenty-first century.

“To do so would be to impose the old solutions on new problems, that is, to use second-hand solutions which appear tried and tested, but which in the end are tired and superficial.”


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