'What's the point in living the life of a priest? I do some good if I am a person of love, one who champions and exemplifies the values of compassion, justice, forgiveness and tolerance. Through my living I must mediate the God of love to people, I must highlight injustice, I must offer hope. If I do not, then I am not witnessing to what I profess. In fact I become a counter-sign.' ~Fr.Gerard Moloney
Only 16 men entered Maynooth last Sunday as they begin a 7 year priestly formation programme. Last year 36 entered so this is a drop of 56%. This is a fairly staggering decline. Nationally the average age of the Irish priest is now 61. It's estimated that by 2028 the number of priests in Ireland will be 1,500 and that will work out as one priest for every five parishes. It is only now that the full extent of the vocations crisis is hitting home. The unselfish lives of many good priests are a great gift and blessing to our communities but for many of them their workload is increasing. Despite efforts to promote more lay involvement there seems to be a crisis of confidence and morale is low. We are entering challenging and extra ordinary times. The spirit of God is steering us through unchartered territory. Fresh and new pastures are waiting even though the path towards same is painful and uncertain. We journey together.