Steps needed to stop decline in the priesthood
THE decline in vocations to the priesthood and religious life in Western Europe and the US during the last 30 years is cause for serious concern. The situation here in this regard is no different from that in the rest of the Western world.
The main solution adopted to deal with this problem has been the sharing of ministry across parishes - in effect, the amalgamation of parishes.
There are doubts, however, that even this can continue to be effective because of the continued decreasing numbers of priests. A far more positive solution is to invite priests who are surplus to requirements to serve in areas where they are needed.
Some steps have been taken in this regard, but the process could and should be considerably improved to achieve better results.
There will be challenges and difficulties, no doubt, associated with these arrangements, but this did not deflect Irish priests helping to staff dioceses across the English-speaking world for well over one hundred years.
It should also be remembered that the most recurring theme in the history of the Catholic Church has been priests and missionaries from one part of the world evangelising in other parts of it.
J ANTHONY GAUGHAN