Two recent articles (here and here) offer different takes on the declining number of priests in Ireland. Note the reaction of the congregation upon hearing Fr. Sean McKenna's announcement and contrast that with the stark statistics on Ireland's dwindling clergy.
Ireland was once a country from which a surplus of priests went forth to serve in other nations around the world - including the United States. The picture is changing radically.
This past Sunday a priest who assists me on weekends and who is on the faculty of St. John Seminary in Brighton brought five 4th year students with him to our 11:30 Mass. Upon introducing them to the assembly, the people gave them a standing ovation.
We applaud those who leave the ordained ministry and we applaud those few preparing to enter it. And in the meantime the numbers dip to precarious lows.
Fr Brendan Hoban, parish priest at St Muredach’s Cathedral, in Ballina, Co Mayo, writing in the Furrow magazine last June, said of his own Killala diocese that “in 20 years’ time there will be around eight priests instead of the present 34, with probably two or three under 60 years of age”.-ConcordPastor
He said “the difficult truth is that priests will have effectively disappeared in Ireland in two to three decades.”