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Ireland: diocesan priestly vocations at record low

October 31, 2012

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Only 12 men began studies for the priesthood this autumn in Ireland’s 26 dioceses—a record low.

“On average, just 50% of men who enter Irish seminaries go on to be ordained,” observes Michael Kelly, editor of the Irish Catholic. “Based on this year’s entry of 12 men remaining steady—if not declining further, as certainly seems possible—approximately 180 Irishmen will be ordained diocesan priests in the next 30 years. At the same time, it is estimated that 1,684 priests will have either died or retired from active ministry in that time-frame.”

Kelly also notes that “the Dominican friars are the only part of the Church in Ireland bucking the downward trend in vocations” and that Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has made controversial remarks on the current seminarians.

“It is not just that the number of candidates is low; it is also that many of those who present are fragile and some are much more traditional than those who went before them,” the prelate said earlier this year.


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Show 5 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: koinonia - Nov. 01, 2012 7:48 PM ET USA

    This is well beyond the discussion of whose fault and why. The math indicates institutional and perhaps widespread spiritual death. The Church cannot be the Church without her priests. For France and Ireland the staggering numbers are downright scary. No amount of marketing or recruiting will change what is being faced. This is going to be a story about conversion or it is going to be a story about death. It is that simple. The days of finger-pointing are over.

  • Posted by: normnuke - Oct. 31, 2012 11:00 PM ET USA

    Vocations to the holy Priesthood are few and many fragile. Not exactly what we were told to expect from Vatican II.

  • Posted by: John Chrysostom - Oct. 31, 2012 6:36 PM ET USA

    Always remember: Where good Liturgy and good theology are cherished and practice the Church - including vocations - thrives. But where they are neglected the Church dies.

  • Posted by: Don Vicente - Oct. 31, 2012 1:23 PM ET USA

    "Some are much more traditional then those who went before them." Well DEO GRATIAS! How successful has Abp. Martin been with their more "progressive" predecessors, assuming they're still around? Prospective candidates could not help noticing that the Abp. is trashing his own seminarians -- a really positive recruitment move, no?

  • Posted by: - Oct. 31, 2012 12:36 PM ET USA

    The problem with the lack of new priests in Ireland is the extreme secularization of the Irish Church, which has so watered down the true meaning and purpose of Catholicism and its divinely instituted priesthood as to make a priestly vocation unattractive to most young Irish Catholics. It has also diminished the concept and consequences of serious sin, especially as it relates to the importance Church attendance (celebration of the Mass and receiving holy communion). It is not surprising therefore that only one third of Irish Catholics feel that they need to regularly attend Church. If the Irish Church wants to increase priestly vocations they need to look no further than to the areas of the Church that are growing vocations instead of losing them. These are the Churches that still hold to pre Vatican II traditional Catholicism and evangelization, such as Africa and Eastern Europe.