Longford, Ireland, Mar 29, 2017 / 23:02 pm America/Denver (CNA).
In one Irish diocese, the number of active priests may halve in fewer than 15 years. As a result, Bishop Francis Duffy of Ardagh and Clonmacnois has aimed to prepare his flock to take on more active roles.
“This ongoing development will impact every parish in the diocese and will bring about considerable change in how the parishes are organized and also in the way the Good News of Jesus Christ is passed on to succeeding generation,” he said in a new pastoral letter. “Critically, there will also be an impact on the workload of priests and their welfare is our concern in this changing context.”
Bishop Duffy’s March 24 pastoral letter focused on sustaining the Catholic faith community in the diocese.
“Many of you will fondly remember when there were two or three priests working in your parish and where now there is only one. Three of our parishes do not have a resident priest,” he said. “This trend of a declining number of clergy is set to continue.”
The diocese is located in the northern area of the Republic of Ireland. At present, its 53 diocesan priests serve 41 parishes. The diocese has four priests serving from abroad and from missionary congregations.