Just one person from the Derry diocese is to begin studying for the priesthood at Ireland’s national seminary this week.
In all, 22 new seminarians from across the country are starting their studies at Saint Patrick’s College in Maynooth.
The group includes a chartered surveyor, a pub manager, several mature students and at least one school leaver.
The average age of the new entrants is 25-years-old and they come from 14 of the 26 dioceses of Ireland.
Monsignor Hugh Connolly, President of St. Patrick’s, told the new seminarians at the weekend: “The road ahead has many challenges.”
Derry diocesan spokesman Fr. Michael Canny revealed recently that, with only eight “trainee” priests from the local diocese currently studying for the clerical life, it’s only a matter of time before some local parishes will be without a priest.
Fr. Canny told the ‘Journal’: “At present, there is a priest serving in every parish in the Derry diocese. How long that remains tenable is a matter of conjecture; realistically, I don’t think it is sustainable.”
He also revealed that there will be no ordinations for the Derry diocese this year.