Following the announcement of the latest summer appointments, it has emerged that a Down and Connor clergyman has become the youngest parish priest in Ireland.
Fr Conor McGrath, 32, has been appointed as the parish priest of Glenravel and the administrator of The Braid. In addition, he will also provide chaplaincy services to schools in Ballymena and St Killian’s College in Carnlough.
Speaking about his new role, Fr McGrath told The Irish Catholic: “I’m both excited and nervous in terms of timing in the Church and stuff like that where there are big changes. “I’m excited for the future, excited what God will do in that particular place. It’s a lot of responsibility…but it will be a big change and I am excited about it.”
The priest, who was ordained in Glengormley in 2012, previously worked in Antrim and was curate in the Parish of Drumbo and Carryduff just prior to his new appointment.
“It’s a great spot [Carryduff], it’s a great parish community…it kind of has a real country feel to it because everybody is from the country and they bring that country outlook on things,” he said. He added that while “in some respects” his new position has put a lot of weight on his shoulders, he is trusting in God’s providence to take care of him.
As part of the Down and Connor diocesan changes, Bishop Noel Treanor appealed for more men to consider religious life given the continuing decline of clergy in Ireland.
“Undoubtedly, the increasing age profile of clergy and declining numbers of available priests has created its own challenge in fulfilling the Church’s mission and ministry, a challenge which our clergy respond to on a daily basis with generosity and Faith-filled dedication,” Dr Treanor said.
“I take this opportunity to renew an appeal to pray for more vocations to the diocesan priesthood, to religious life and to the permanent diaconate so that others may join with them as ‘labourers in the harvest’.”