Dublin Diocese 2030 – Quo vadis?
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
The report seems to suggest a continuance of the same trajectory. For instance, in the medical profession there is an openness to new ideas on how medical services are provided – eg a category of nurses who practically on a par with doctors in certain areas of diagnosis and treatment. This report seems to have little imagination – focuses mostly on priests and “volunteers”.
There are dioceses in the first world where vocations to the priesthood are increasing. Take Lincoln Nebraska, 95,000 Catholics which loans 7 or 8 priests to other diocese. Parallel with the question of vacations in diocesan priests is that of vacations to religious orders in the first world. It is noteworthy that in Limerick city a third new congregation is taking up residence in 2016. All three congregations are from first world countries and are experiencing increases on vocations – one has 80 seminarians in training.
Is it reasonable to suggest that there is merit in examining how dioceses and religious congregations who are being blessed with now vacations identify and pursue practices which correlate with such blessings?
Are we are heading for the rocks and about to capsize?
While the barge of Peter is torn apart by two of its sails blowing in the opposite direction causing great discord within the Church on the Right: an extreme conservative wind wanting to blow our boat back to the becalming out-of-date swamp of pre-1962. On the Left: an extreme liberal wind wanting to blow our boat into rapids where faith and morals are thrown overboard”. But there is a third way that will bring arrogance to its knees and where folly does not have to be appeased, it is called HUMILITY the true mind-set of the faithful, it is the ONLY way we can go forward in UNITY OF PURPOSE.
We can hoist a third sail with the image of Broken Man imprinted upon it, a sail of humility, as we acknowledge our dependence on His Mercy, this serving of the Truth will induce respect from many who observe our humility before God, a Holy People serving the Truth, the inviolate living Word of God seen living in compassionate hearts by acknowledging their own limitations before Him and mankind, this is the true (only) sail that the Holy Spirit blows, upon as He steers us out into fresh rejuvenating water, the water that wells up into eternal life.
Can the old crew “Moulded in immaturity” climb the perilous mast (Fear) and then prepare the gangplanks for the next (Generation) port of call, while clearing the decks for The Lost and abandoned and leave a ship fit for purpose.
Please consider reading in conjunction with this post my article The Hireling link below
kevin your brother
To paraphrase T. S. Eliot:
This is the way the church in Ireland dies:
Not with a bang but a whimper.
If one may add a second contribution, In terms of new vocations I found the subject of the CNN programme in the web address below quite uplifting. From the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan.
The institutional Church is dying a painful death. We urgently need a new model of Church and, to this end, I would welcome the ACP in leading a dialogue, culminating in a National Assembly or Conference, on developing an appropriate model(s) of Church.
Is this death notice the result of 50 years of stonewalling, on the premise that “you don’t change a winning team”? Is it now too late? The remnant had best reach out to the vital elements in Irish society, such as those behind the marriage equality referendum, and the poets and musicians and playwrights and philosophers (and perhaps a few theologians as well). The routinization of the Mass has been a core sickness, and the ghastly new translations are the death-kiss.
I’m not in the Limerick diocese but I noticed before its synod started that the Bishop emphasised the centrality of the teaching of the Church. It remains to be seen what will emerge from the Limerick synod but one essential outcome will have to be a good quality witness to the person of Christ. Numbers 1 to 7 above all relate to witness.
There is an unsystematic diversity in the New Testament writings – a diversity of witnessing subjects. The only unifying characteristic is the instinct of the Church, which, in her drafting of the canon selected gospels and letters as genuine witnesses to Christ.
He knew that the consummation of his mission would come to pass only with his death and resurrection. Relatively speaking He said little about the death-resurrection events until Holy Thursday and then only to make the sharing of the Eucharist the final act of his life for all eternity. The apostles were bamboozled as to the meaning of the death/resurrection events right up to Pentecost.
He left the interpretation of his mission, the most important thing about him, to the future: to the inspiring Spirit. The Church, in turn, is the witness inspired by the Spirit, the principal witness. Christ freely surrendered to this interpretation.
The Church in forming the canon recognised in all the scattered New Testament writings the same testimony of faith which could have been inspired and kept together only by a common Holy Spirit. This unity of faith from which is absent any contradictions in various fundamental theological thoughts, is from a theological point of view a prerequisite for the canonicity of the New Testament.
The shared faith succeeded from its inception in simultaneously finding a common expression.
Now as then, the key to the preaching of the Word relies on two factors: (1) the incomparable power of the person and behaviour of the Master to impress, and (2) the willingness of the witnesses to be nothing but witnesses to the one Christ, to the one shared faith – not opinion shapers or purveyors of one’s own “truth.” We must in faith yield to the testimony in order to perceive what is expressed.
Perhaps the future is to be one without ordained priests.
Perhaps the future is to be one without ordained priests
Well possible those like Fr John A Gallagher (48) who is now living in a friend’s home after locks at his parochial house were changed and he was placed on medical leave by his bishop in the Diocese of Palm Beach
kevin your brother