Irish Church is failing to prioritise vocations – claim

The former National Co-ordinator for Diocesan Vocations has criticised a lack of Church focus on promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

Fr Paddy Rushe, who was responsible for vocations nationally from 2006-2011, has hit out at Church leaders for failing to prioritise vocation-promotion over the past two decades.

He claimed “the Church did very little to arrest the decline in vocations” over the past 20 years, despite “the obvious impact and challenge of the abuse scandals”.

The current Dundalk Institute of Technology chaplain said it is “astonishing” that during that time vocations and vocations promotion was “last on the list” of diocesan priorities “if even on the list at all”.

Fr Rushe urged Church leaders to make vocations the top priority for the Church in Ireland, insisting “more needs to be done”.

“We should not shy away from promoting vocations to the priesthood in particular,” he told The Irish Catholic.

“The challenge is for all of us as priests to think actively about how we are promoting the priesthood and putting it to potential candidates as a credible choice. Every priest and community should be promoting vocations,” he said.

Fr Rushe encouraged priests to take advantage of social media as a practical means of engaging the youth and promoting the priesthood.

“With decline in practice in recent years there isn’t as much contact with young people so we need to actively seek out opportunities to be present with young people.

Practical way

“Putting the call out there in practical ways through Twitter, Facebook and other means of social media that young people use particularly is one way of achieving that,” he said.

Fr Rushe also claimed it is vital that priests convey positive images of themselves and make young people aware of the rewarding aspects of their ministry. 

“We need to avoid the temptations to speak solely about the negatives aspects of the priesthood. Young people need to be made aware of the positives so we need to talk to them about the joy, happiness and excitement of ministry,” he said.