Church faces priest shortage as pandemic pause on retirements to end

Paschal Sheehy, RTÉ Southern Editor reports:

The Catholic Church in Ireland is facing huge change, as an effective pause on retirements in response to the pandemic comes to an end.

The church expects many priests who delayed retirement over the past two years to step down in the coming months, forcing a reduction in the level of services being offered, and the remaining clergy to be shared between different communities and parishes.

National figures for the age profile of clergy are not compiled. Nor are figures for the number of retirements due. However, parish priests must submit a retirement letter when they reach 75.

The reality though is that many parish priests – along with priests in all roles – have been working, in both full-time and part-time roles, well beyond that.

A snapshot of the number of priests due to retire in selected dioceses is indicative of the national trend.

According to figures published by the Irish Examiner (see link below) earlier this week, almost one-tenth of the 70 priests in the Diocese of Cloyne in north and east Co Cork are due to retire between now and 2023. In the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora, seven of the 40 priests in full-time ministry there will retire in the same timeframe.

In the Diocese of Cork and Ross, 11 priests are due to retire over the next three years. The Irish Examiner article said nine of the diocese’s 94 serving parish priests are aged over 75…

Link to full article:

Link to Irish examiner report cited in RTÉ story:



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One Comment

  1. Mary Vallely says:

    Church Faces Priest Shortage…

    While it is no doubt challenging and uncomfortable, change is necessary. We all know that there are solutions. It is just a matter of time and of changing mindsets. Choosing priests from one gender and insisting on mandatory celibacy are seen as discriminatory and against all reason and sense.
    We all know and admire many, many dedicated clergy and my heart goes out to those struggling to continue to serve God and the people of God in these particularly trying times of Covid. Thank you to all of you and may you experience a little bit of extra joy and happiness this Christmas time! A special míle buíochas to the wonderful Sisters in the various Orders working and praying quietly in the background, leading by example.

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