BISHOP of Limerick Brendan Leahy has suggested that lay people could fill some of the roles created by a fall off in vocations.
With a huge decline in priestly vocations, Bishop Leahy said that the deepening involvement of laity would “serve to bring the Church closer together”.
Speaking as he announced a reshuffle in the Diocese, Bishop Leahy addressed the decline in vocations and said that “the faithful is responding to its calling to play a greater role in pastoral ministry by showing a clear intent and desire to enhance its role in the Church”.
He noted that the build-up to next year’s Diocesan Synod - and the event itself, which will take place in early 2016 with 350 delegates, drawn from all areas of Catholic faith - presented an opportunity “to create a pathway for the enhanced involvement of laity in ministry”. However, he also urged those thinking of joining the priesthood to consider doing so.
“The number of clerical changes is relatively few this year because we are in the build up to the Synod,” he explained.
“The Synod is going to be an opportunity for us to assess where we are in terms of our ability to respond to the pastoral needs of the diocese and how we address the inevitable challenges that will arise.
“The future will clearly involve many new arrangements around pastoral ministry in parishes but the more we progress on the road to the Synod and the preparations across the diocese, the more optimistic I am about how we are going to meet this. What’s clear is that in recent years many lay people are very much answering a new calling to them at this stage of the Church’s journey and what started out as a real challenge for us is quickly being transformed into an opportunity.”
Among the changes will see Rev. Liam Enright be Administrator, Rathkeale; Rev. Joseph Cussen, C.C. Kilmallock and P.P. Bulgaden / Martinstown to become C.C. Newcastle West to succeed Rev. Richard Keane; Rev. Richard Keane to go on study leave, studying Canon Law in Ottawa; Very Rev. Joseph Shire to be Administrator of Bulgaden / Martinstown; Rev. Gerard O’Leary to be member of the pastoral team in Kilmallock parish; Rev. Brendan Duggan, CSSp, to be C.C. in Monaleen parish; Sr. Eileen Lenihan to be part-time Vicar for Consecrated Life.
The following nominations were also announced: Monsignor Michael Lane to be Archdeacon; Very Rev. Gerard Garrett to be Canon and Penitentiary of the Chapter; Very Rev. John Daly to be Canon of the Prebendary of Ardcanny and Very Rev. Joseph Shire to be Canon of the Prebendary of Croagh.