Tuesday, August 24, 2010

16 new seminarians for Irish Catholic Church

This week, sixteen men from various dioceses around Ireland embark on a period of study and formation on the potential road to priesthood. This year, the Dublin archdiocese leads the way with 4 seminarians, followed by Down and Connor with 3 and one seminarian for each of the following dioceses: Armagh, Clogher, Cork and Ross, Derry, Galway, Kildare and Leighlin, Meath, Raphoe and Tuam.

The number of new entrants this year is a sharp drop in comparison to the previous four years. In 2006 there were 30 new entrants, 31 in 2007, 30 in 2008 and 36 in 2009. The news of these new entrants should be welcomed. There is no doubt that it takes immense courage to opt for priesthood in these difficult days for the Irish Church. It is appropriate too to acknowledge the work of the various diocesan vocation directors throughout Ireland - who often have a difficult and lonely task in promoting vocations.

On the other hand, the news of this significant decrease in numbers entering the various seminaries used by the Irish church this year will and should be thoroughly examined and reflected upon by those in positions of authority. More than anything it should raise the following questions: (1) are vocations given priority in every diocese? (2) are the vocations personnel given reasonable resources to carry out their work effectively? (3) when will Irish dioceses consider appointing vocation directors where that ministry is their primary work? (4) where is prayer for priestly and religious vocations taken seriously?


Fr Míċeál Beatty said...

Excellent news Father . I am sad that my home diocese of Elphn seems not to have anyone considering the priesthood this year .

Anonymous said...

Wow, down by half. I suppose that's the effect of the Murphy and Ryan Reports. Have the recent scandals made it a lot more difficult to promote vocations?

Gerard Dunne OP said...

There's no doubt that the reports have had an effect on the numbers but there's a more worrying underlying difficulty which I tried to allude to in the post - namely that vocations promotion and direction really is not getting the attention that it deserves. This is an awful pity and really flies in the face of the Lord who asked that we work earnestly to bring labourers into the harvest.

In Ireland, this is not taken seriously by the majority of dioceses or religious congregations despite much 'talk'. Really, in terms of vocations, the time for talk and navel gazing is long since over and way past time for action.

I'm kind of blue in the face in calling for full-time vocation directors to be appointed across the board - even though that will hurt dioceses and congregations in terms of manpower etc, but if we are really serious about it, then there is no other choice.

The 'Year of Vocation' had a little impact in trying to create a culture of vocation. But when that year ended we lapsed back into this laissez faire attitude towards vocations again.

Finally, it would be easy to point to the publication of the Murphy and Ryan reports as a source of our difficulties - but that would be to absolve ourselves of our own inertia around vocations. Somehow, I think my thoughts and pleas will be falling on deaf ears.

Thanks for your interest in this blog entry.

Anonymous said...

"we lapsed back into this laissez faire attitude towards vocations again"

There may a nasty ideological undercurrent to the bishops' apathy. Archbishop Martin recently gave a talk on getting the laity more involved in the running of parishes, and making sure that every parish is governed by a representative council. There's been a hugely exaggerated emphasis on the 'active participation' of the laity in the last 45 years. For many in the Church the prospect of priestless parishes is something to be welcomed.

I can't help but think that Ireland would benefit from having younger (and also foreign) bishops. It's rare to see a priest under 60 these days; young men aren't going to want to join what many see as a sinking ship.

Also, as the age profile of priests rises, the duties incumbent on younger priests also increase. The vocations crisis is a nasty cycle.

BTW, could you please put my blog on your blogroll? I just put up yours on mine.

Gerard Dunne OP said...

Am uncomfortable with the term 'vocations crisis' because I don't think that the crisis exists! There are many, many vocations out there. It needs a major shift in thinking and action to arrest the situation in which we find ourselves - from the top down and the bottom up!

Have added your blog to list!

Anonymous said...

You may be interested in this report in the Independent: