Families must allow and “support” their loved ones to become priests in light of a shortage in vocations, Ireland’s newest bishop has said.
Bishop Fintan Gavin (53) made the call at his ordination over the weekend, which saw him take the reins of the Diocese of Cork and Ross.
The diocese is particularly afflicted by a shortage of priests. Although it has 109 priests for its 68 parishes, their numbers “are getting smaller”, the bishop said, with many of them approaching retirement age.
Speaking to The Irish Catholic, Bishop Fintan Gavin said both clergy and families have to present a priestly vocation as a “credible choice”.
“You have to give people an experience of God and I think from that experience then something grows and you just encourage people in that,” he said.
“It has to come from families of faith, they have to believe in it and support it. Then again, some families don’t, that doesn’t mean somebody can’t come forward and that’s a different reality maybe then we would have had 20 years ago.”
Bishop Gavin’s episcopal ordination took place in a packed Cathedral of St Mary and St Anne in Cork on Sunday.
Over 1,200 people attended with screens set up outside to accommodate overflow.
In his first public address as bishop he highlighted the need to tackle the falling number of priests in the diocese and promote a culture of “vocational discernment”.
He said: “We are fortunate to have in Cork and Ross, dedicated, hardworking and faithful priests who continue to give generous service, but they are a group that are getting smaller. We need to actively go out of our way to encourage, foster, nourish and promote vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.”
The priesthood is a “challenging but wonderfully fulfilling life”, he said. “We need to help young men, all those who feel that Jesus may be calling them to follow him as priests, to hear and respond to God’s call to priesthood.”
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