Laity must allow priests rest says new Dublin bishop

Laity must allow priests rest says new Dublin bishop Bishop Donal Roche embraces the Anglican Archbishop of Dublin at the ceremony in Dublin. Photo: John McElroy

Priests must be allowed time off to “recover and recuperate” as more and more is asked of them, the new Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin has said.

Before his episcopal ordination on Sunday in St Andrew’s Church in Westland Row parish Fr Donal Roche told The Irish Catholic there is an urgent need to  alleviate the pressure on the archdiocese’s priests.

“I can understand that for a priest who has been ordained for 50 years or more, he feels he is letting people down when he doesn’t have Mass every single day, and yet in a lot of groups of parishes now, there’s a system where at least one day in the week there won’t be Mass… It needs to be more accepted and more the norm.

“I think people still feel there should be Mass in every church, every day. We have to work harder at that I think to let people realise that there has to be time off for priests, and that they need to recover and recuperate from their work.”

He said that when there were two or three priests in a parish time off “could easily be managed”, but now “you could have your day or your week blocked out with all your appointments”. Often priests can’t take weekends off for holidays because of lack of cover, he added.

Bishop Roche said in his new role his main responsibility will be “supporting priests will be one very big part, and supporting the archbishop in his task as he’s got a huge amount to do”.

However, in terms of engaging young people he added: “I would love to be able to focus on some way of inspiring and getting young people together, for prayer, scripture groups, social action groups… That would be a hope that I’d be able to focus on something around that.

“But first of all, it’s not just about getting people to do things or to come to things, it’s getting them to have an encounter first with Christ, essentially it’s about helping people to find the Lord in in prayer or in scripture,” he said.

Bishop Roche said: “We get as far as Confirmation with them in the Primary school system and it’s just such a challenge after that. Once they go beyond that as teenagers it’s very difficult for parents, for teachers, to keep youngsters safe from the dangers that are there. It’s so easy for them to be led down the wrong path. It’s a challenge for all of us, not just the Church, to try to keep young people safe.”

Read the full feature piece by Chai Brady – Laity must accept overburdened priests need time off – Bishop Roche