Just 10 seminarians began discerning their vocations in 2021, and in 2022 there were just 56 men studying to join the priesthood in all of Ireland.
Just one verse each day.
The Catholic Church in Ireland is facing a crisis of priestly vocations. Just 10 seminarians began discerning their vocations in 2021, and in 2022 there were just 56 men studying to join the priesthood in all of Ireland. With an estimated 2.5% of Irish priests currently below the age of 40, the nation is expected to see a sharp decline in clergy members in the coming decades.
In 2022, Archbishop of Tuam Francis Duffy addressed the concerns of the archdiocese to a congregation in County Mayo, in which he noted that the only thing certain about the Irish Catholic clergy is that it is in decline. He gravely warned the faithful:
“I suggest you look at your priest, he may be the last in a long line of resident pastors and may not be replaced.” The archbishop continued, “I suggest you look at your church, you may be lucky to have a Sunday Mass or several, but for how much longer?”
Now, to address this looming problem, Archbishop Duffy has introduced a new initiative to attempt to draw young men to the process of discernment, called “Take a Risk for Christ.”
The campaign was announced on April 30, as the Church celebrated “Vocations/Good Shepherd Sunday.” It will run for an entire year in an effort to reverse the current course, which has seen a surge in laity-run church services held when there are no available priests.
According to a report from OSV, a survey found that one of the greatest factors holding young men back from discerning their vocation is reports of clerical abuse. Catholic faith practice has also been seen dwindling in the nation, with only 36% of Catholics reportedly attending Mass in 2016. Meanwhile, in 2022, only 40% of Irish weddings were Catholic.
The efforts of the “Take a Risk for Christ” campaign will include starting conversations among families, priests, and parishes that will emphasize the beauty of a vocation to the priesthood. This will involve testimonies from newly ordained priests about their time in the seminary as well as their views since becoming ordained.