Bishops joined 4000 pilgrims from across Ireland in the annual Reek Sunday pilgrimage climb of Croagh Patrick as part of the Church’s drive for vocations to the priesthood. Source: UCA News.
Archbishop Eamon Martin, Primate of All Ireland, was among those who climbed about 800 metres to the summit on July 30 to celebrate Mass in the small oratory at the top of Ireland’s holy mountain, where St Patrick is reputed to have spent 40 days in the 5th century.
Speaking to OSV News, Archbishop Martin, who as Archbishop of Armagh is successor to St. Patrick, explained: “We are trying to get the message out this year that priesthood is a very much important vocation for the Church. Our numbers in the priesthood are dwindling but we are hopeful that the Lord is still calling people.”
The Church in Ireland is grappling with a shortage of priests and a lack of vocations. Only a handful of ordinations will take place this year, with most of the 26 dioceses seeing no ordinations.
Archbishop Francis Duffy of Tuam, in whose diocese Croagh Patrick lies, told OSV News, “I think there is now a greater awareness of the shortage of priests.”
Due to the shortage of clergy, not all parishes will have a priest living in their parish in the future. Instead, they will rely on the assistance and pastoral care of a neighbouring priest, the archbishop said.
The changing situation has meant that lay people are now talking about training in order to do a greater amount of administration and pastoral work in the diocese, such as leading prayer services.
Pilgrims climb up ‘the Reek’ to promote vocations in Ireland (By Sarah Mac Donald, OSV News via UCA News)