The report commissioned by the Dublin Council of Priests may be found at this link Dublin Archdiocese 2030 projection
A predicted 61% reduction in numbers of priests between 2014 and 2030
If Religious Orders relinquish parish responsibilities, the FTP population would fall to 111 which would represent a 70% reduction in numbers between 2014 and 2030.
For example, if there are four Priests, two working at 100% capacity and two working at 75% capacity (due to the impact of ageing), the population for the purposes of the analysis would be 3.5 FTPs)
The age profile of Priests in 2030 will be higher than in 2014 and 75% of Priests are projected to be older than 60 which will present a further issue. This also highlights that the issue will be magnified in the years following 2030 when these Priests retire
Further reduction of 33% assumed between 2014 and 2030.
Allowing for the decline in mass attendance projected over the period to 2030, it was estimated that you would require 246 FTPs in 2030 to provide the same level of service to parishioners of now.
However due to the reduced number of priests there will be a shortfall of 102 FTPs and this would increase to 135 FTPs if Religious Order Priests relinquished parish responsibilities.
The report makes some suggestions for discussion by the Council.
- Recruit new Priests, if possible:
From other parts of the country although every Diocese is experiencing similar issues so this is unlikely
- Allocate more work to lay people allowing Priests to concentrate on liturgical tasks. This could be done in different ways:
Volunteer recruitment: This will be difficult as there is a lot of competition for volunteers from charities, sporting and community organisations. The amount of time allocated to volunteerism has also reduced in society over recent years
Remunerated work: Likely to be possible to recruit lay people to assist assuming that the remuneration is deemed sufficient. However, this would have a financial impact due to the cost of wages and training.
- Make it increasingly attractive for Priests who are over age 75 to remain involved in some capacity.
One impact of the reduced number of priests will be a reduced number of Sunday Masses available in the diocese. The mumber of masses would need to reduce from the current 836 to 331 to avoid increasing workload for the remaining priests.
Again the report puts forward some suggestions about how to achieve this but adds “The optimal solution is probably a combination of reduced masses and combined parishes and you will need to discuss this as a group to determine the appropriate balance.”
It concludes by saying that the next steps are;
- Priests Council to discuss this report in detail and understand the results of the analysis.
- Priests Council to ensure they understand the sensitivities of the analysis to the assumptions used.
- Priests Council to assess the options they wish to pursue to deal with the issues identified
- Once this process has advanced, you may wish to look at:
Carrying out a financial analysis to determine the implications of various options
Carry out further analysis to determine the results based on alternative assumptions
- Suggest re-running the projections in 3 years with refined assumptions (based on experience and additional data collected) to assess progress versus expected and the likely future projection given experience since the last review. Given that the projection model and process have been set up, subsequent reviews are easier to carry out
- Collect additional data to assist in ongoing analysis of the evolving position – suggestions for additional data is set out on the following slide
- Continue to consider options in light of the evolving conditions