Priestless funerals on the horizon

Priestless funerals

Ireland is poised for a significant shift in funeral ceremonies

The Association of Catholic Priests predicts that priestless funerals will become increasingly common by the decade’s end.

Fr Roy Donovan, the priests’ association spokesperson, foresees that ceremonies led by lay ministers, often without a funeral Mass, will become firmly established in a few years.

The change will particularly impact densely populated urban areas.

Training programmes for parishioners have been initiated in dioceses nationwide, including Dublin.

“Lay people are being trained at the moment at dioceses around the country to perform funeral duties, and it’s exactly what’s needed because the burden on priests has to be relieved.

“There are fewer priests than ever before, and they are ageing.

“Yet people still expect a priest to lead a funeral Mass, which is becoming increasingly unrealistic,” said Donovan.

More than 70 new lay leaders in the dioceses of Clogher and Down and Connor are nearing the end of their training.

Delays for funerals

Families have been cautioned that the shrinking number of priests and a deepening vocations crisis could also lead to grouped or delayed funerals in the near future.

In the coming years, lay individuals are expected to take on more central roles in funeral ceremonies, supporting grieving families and assisting in various aspects except for conducting a funeral Mass.

“Certainly, by the end of the decade, it’ll become common to see laity and priests sharing responsibilities throughout the country while, in cities, we’ll start to see funeral ceremonies without a mass because there won’t be a priest available,” suggested Donovan.

If families desire a priest to lead a funeral Mass, they may need to wait a week or two, akin to practices in England.

Additionally, multiple funerals may likely occur simultaneously to cope with the impact of the priest shortage.


Irish Mirror

CathNews New Zealand

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