THE IRISH CATHOLIC newspaper has predicted that there will be just 450 priests serving in Irish parishes in 2042.
That figure, reached by examining imminent retirements and current ordination rates, offers a stark difference to the 1,965 priests serving across Ireland’s 26 dioceses right now.
Only 12 men entered the national seminary in Maynooth to begin their training in August and the drop off rate is usually quite high – sometimes up to 50 per cent. The president of the college said “massive changes” will be necessary within the church because of a lack of priests.
Deputy Editor of the newspaper Michael Kelly said that the result of such a significant decrease in manpower will mean hundreds of parishes will be left without a priest. The figures have been described as “very worrying” by senior figures in the Catholic Church in Ireland.
Currently, there are 32 priests under the age of 34 working in Ireland – just 1.6 per cent of the total number of active priests.
Last month, TheJournal.ie reported that bishops are currently drawing up plans for parishes which could see laypeople lead Sunday services for the first time.
Described as a “radical action”, the proposals are to be discussed at a meeting of the church’s hierarchy in October.