From The Irish Times:
Just two Catholic priests in Dublin are under 40, while a further 44 are aged between 70 and 75 and “in the next four or five years will be going into a more retired sort of life”, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said today.
The Archbishop was speaking at Dublin’s Pro Cathedral this afternoon following the ordination to the priesthood there of Fr Séamus McEntee (48).
He noted how, in two Wicklow parishes, “we have, for example, two neighbouring parishes. One had 1,100 people and two priests. Next to it, 11,000 people and two priests.” This suggested, he said, that “we have to look at a way in which we come to a greater sharing of responsibility in the church”.
Looking to the future, he said “the image of the parish in 10 years’ time will be very, very different to the image of the parish we have today. There’ll be more lay people, deacons, religious, all working together under the leadership of a priest. It’s important that the priest would give real spiritual leadership. It’s not just about running other things in the parish. In the past priests did all sorts of things that weren’t essential.”
But priests won’t be spiritual leaders in the abstract, he said. A priest “will have to be somebody who can stand beside the men and women who live the difficulties of having faith in today’s world, who has the spiritual maturity themselves to stand beside those people and help them along the journey”. For his part, he said, “I’m not afraid of a strong lay leadership in the church. I welcome it.”
And pray for vocations!