Candidates preparing for the priesthood should begin their initial year of formation in Ireland rather than abroad, a Waterford priest has said.
Since 2016, it has been common for would-be priests to take part in a propaedeutic, or pre-seminary, year to help them discern their vocation. While some Irish candidates complete their preparatory year in their local diocese, others travel to Rome or Spain to finish this section of formation.
However, Fr Edmond Cullinan of the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity told this newspaper that pre-seminary students should all complete this year in Ireland, and live in different formation houses spread across the country.
This model would allow them to “keep in touch with what’s going on in the parish” and also be suitably formed by a priest director.
“It’s up to the bishops to sort it out. There are plenty of people who could do it. I think it could be done in Ireland – I don’t see why that couldn’t be done by the Irish Church,” Fr Cullinan said.
It is understood that the bishops are currently reviewing possible Irish locations for pre-seminary students, with Kilkenny’s St Kieran’s College being a potential option. A spokesperson for the Diocese of Ossory said that the college made a submission three years ago as a “possible location” for that propaedeutic year.
“It is my understanding that as of yet no formal decision has been taken by the Conference on any one location for this year and that many bishops are successfully continuing to use other established locations as an answer to this need,” Fr Dermot Ryan told The Irish Catholic.
Fr Cullinan also said that while clergy numbers are low at the moment, an influx of candidates is around the corner.
“Basically, the Church is going to revive for the very simple reason that the materialistic culture doesn’t satisfy the human heart. People are still going to be asking the question, ‘What’s the meaning of life?’, and it is really religion that supplies the answer to that. So, I think there will be a revival.”