MASSIVE changes in how priests deliver for their parishes are on the cards, after a year which will see six clerical retirements and just one ordination.
Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy has warned that the level of services provided by priests in the Diocese will change in the years ahead due to the significant decline in priest vocations over recent decades.
“This year we will have one ordination to the priesthood in the diocese. David Casey will be ordained on July 19th in the Cathedral. That is great news and we can rejoice in it. However, it will probably be another five or six years before we have another ordination. Thankfully, lately a number of men have indicated an interest in going for the priesthood. I hope we will see an increase in the number entering the seminary in coming years,” the Bishop said.
“That said, while we can’t yet talk of a massive crisis, as relatively we still have a reasonable number of priests in Limerick diocese, we do need to recognise that the services we have provided until now will change. The ageing profile of priests will mean we will have to shape differently the way we provide ministry in the diocese. It is important for priests to work more in teams, supporting one another and also working together possibly serving a number of parishes”.
He said he is concerned that some of the larger parishes have only one priest where previously there were three and demand is still increasing. and previously Some of the city parishes are very large and I am concerned that we have only one priest in some of them. There are parishes where previously there were two or three priests but now there is only one. But the demands, if anything, are increasing.
Paying tribute to the many lay people who give their time to parish duties, Bishop Leahy said that he had engaged Fr. Eamonn Fitzgibbon, Episcopal Vicar for Pastoral Planning, over recent months to work on his behalf with priests and pastoral area teams to reflect on the changing profile of the diocesan clergy.
“It is against this background that I made the changes this year. I appreciate some people will be upset to see their priest moving on but the change, if lived well, can be fruitful for the priest and for the parish”.
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