I hear my local priest say in his homily that there’s a shortage of priests in Ireland, is there really a shortage of priests?

Well, there certainly is a shortage of young priests in Ireland. In some dioceses there are parishes with no priests at all and in most parishes there are no young priests.

There is an effort to address this problem by so-called ‘clustering’ of parishes (e.g. one priest serving several parishes), but this puts a lot of strain on priests.

Some dioceses have welcomed younger priests from other countries to help deal with the critical shortage. Others have enlisted lay people to help with tasks such as leading funeral prayers and services. These were traditionally part of the priest’s role, but lay people can do them too.

I think we can safely say that the situation is getting worse, that there are fewer young men coming forward for ordination, and that this will have a huge impact on the Church’s life (parish life in particular) into the future.

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