Parishes to be rezoned over priest shortage

Priest shortage affecting parishes nationwide

Parishes in one of Ireland’s largest diocese are to be rezoned as early as next year to cope with a severe shortage of priests, a bishop has revealed.

Bishop of Down and Connor Dr Noel Treanor exposed the crisis facing his diocese at the launch of a new pastoral plan for the diocese in Belfast.

“It is no secret the number  of priests is declining,” Bishop Treanor told participants at the launch. 

“The reality of this is that we will have to withdraw priests from some parishes in order to cover all of our other parishes. This means we will have to create new pastoral areas or pastoral zones,” he said.

According to Bishop Treanor, the process of rezoning would group “two, three or maybe even four parishes together served by one priest”.

“That is the reality not of five years time but it is the reality of next year,” the bishop warned. “It’s a fact,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Archdiocese of Tuam will this weekend circulate its planning document for 2013-2020 to all parishes.

Archbishop Michael Neary said it was intended to “provide direction as to how we as an archdiocese, priests and people, will respond together to challenges which face us as we plan for the future”.


It is estimated that by 2020, the 55 parishes of Tuam will be served by 50 priests. While the document emphasises the importance of encouraging vocations in light of this reality, it also deals with the possible introduction of the Permanent Diaconate as one of a number of proposals.