Just four men started studying for the priesthood for Ireland’s 26 dioceses this autumn, with a further two Neocatechumenal Way students entering that movement’s seminary in Dundalk for the Archdiocese of Armagh. When ordained, Neocatechumenal students traditionally serve for a period in the diocese before being reassigned overseas.
A further ten men began a pre-seminary year raising hopes that they will proceed to seminary next year.
The pre-seminary programme – known as a propaedeutic year – is increasingly a feature of the path to priesthood and is usually conducted in Spain.
A survey by The Irish Catholic newspaper revealed the extent of the vocations crisis across the country’s dioceses with eight dioceses having no students in seminary at all. In all, just five of the dioceses – including the two Neocatechumenal students for Armagh – had new entrants this year.