At 25, Ireland’s youngest priest is ordained in Co Kildare

Almost a third of priests in Kildare and Leighlin Catholic diocese are over 75

Ireland’s youngest priest: Fr David Vard, who is 25, is a past pupil of Patrician Secondary School in Newbridge

Ireland’s youngest priest: Fr David Vard, who is 25, is a past pupil of Patrician Secondary School in Newbridge

 

Ireland’s youngest priest, 25-year-old Fr David Vard, was ordained in his hometown of Newbridge by Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin on Sunday afternoon.

A past pupil of the town’s Patrician Secondary School and a former player with Newbridge Rugby Club, Fr Vard entered St Patrick’s College in Maynooth after his Leaving Certificate, in 2010. He has been appointed a curate in Portlaoise.

Bishop Nulty told a parish gathering in the diocese last week that 27 of its 90 priests are over 75, with 12 of them over 80.

Past discussions about parish clustering and reorganisation may have been “that bit more removed from the urgency of the present”, he said at a diocesan gathering in Portarlington. “Even if we were guaranteed an ordination every year for the foreseeable future, we would still be playing catch-up,” he said.

The diocese, with 205,185 Catholics, covers Co Carlow and parts of Cos Kildare, Laois, Offaly, Kilkenny, Wicklow and Wexford.

None of its 117 churches would be closed, Bishop Nulty said, but Masses in its 56 parishes may have to be curtailed. “It is not my intention to close any churches, but there may in some areas of the diocese have to be a reappraisal of Mass times.”

Involvement of “a very large number of lay people who are so actively engaged in the life of their parish and their diocese offers more hope”, he said, recommending that “every parish have a team of lay people working towards the shared goal of collaborative leadership by the autumn of 2018”.

He also announced that priests in the diocese were to be relieved of all parish administration work at the age of 75 from the summer of 2019 but that they could continue celebrating Masses and the like. “Carrying the burden of administration” after 75 was “ simply not fair”, Bishop Nulty said.