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Lay ministers in Clogher Diocese will be allowed to lead the liturgy of reception of the body at the church and the Rite of Committal at the graveside (Bigstock)

More than 40 laymen and laywomen in the Clogher Diocese in the north of Ireland will soon begin presiding over funeral liturgies amid a shortage of priests. Source: CNA.

A major vocation crisis could result in fewer than 10 active priests in the diocese in less than 20 years, according to the local ordinary, Bishop Larry Duffy.

“Over the past few months, over 40 people from 12 parishes across the diocese have taken part in a formation course to enable them to accompany people and families at the time of bereavement,” Bishop Duffy announced in a Christmas pastoral letter on Saturday.

Other parishes have indicated a “willingness” to nominate people for a similar course in the spring, he wrote. 

In the letter, he said that the lay ministers would lead the “liturgy of reception of the body at the church and the Rite of Committal at the graveside”.

Bishop Duffy said the lay ministers will continue to be trained over the “coming months” and be commissioned to preside over funerals in their parishes. “We are very grateful to all those who have come forward for the formation and training and to the priests of those parishes for their involvement,” he said. Bishop Duffy asked for prayer for the new ministers. 

He said that the ministers will be “commissioned publicly to act in the name of the Church” and added that “this is not a lessening of service to families and loved ones at the time of a death but, rather, a strengthening of the local parish commitment to accompany people at such a difficult and sensitive time”.


Irish diocese to rely on laity to preside over funerals amid shortage of priests (By Joe Bukuras, CNA)