Just two Catholic priests in Dublin aged under 40 - Martin

Image of parish in 10 years’ time ‘very different to today’, Archbishop says

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has 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.” Photograph: Reuters

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has 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.” Photograph: Reuters

Tue, Jun 3, 2014, 16:07

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.

“We already have in Dublin two parishes where there is no permanent priests or resident priest, and the people look after that.”

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.”

With eight seminarians from the Dublin archdiocese studying for the priesthood in Maynooth, two of whom were among 15 men ordained deacons by the Catholic primate Cardinal Seán Brady in Maynooth last Sunday, Archbishop Martin said “the numbers are going back up slightly”.

He said: “We are very demanding on our seminarians. I want people who…mistakes were made in the past. We have to be quite strong in choosing people.”

Of the newly ordained Fr McEntee, he said: “I’m very pleased. He’s a very fine man. We need more priests. We need good priests. And the way to get more priests is for all of us to be good priests. You can see the affection there is for this man from the parishes where he worked... I’ve very happy for him, for his family. He’s had a very interesting career.”