Just 70 full-time priests in Derry Diocese

The extent of the vocations crisis facing the Catholic Church locally has been revealed by the Bishop of Derry.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 3:44 pm

Latest figures indicate that, in the past 30 years, the number of priests in the local diocese has plummeted by more than half.

According to Dr Donal McKeown, there are currently 70 priests in full-time ministry in 51 parishes.

In 1990, however, it’s understood that figure stood at 147 priests.

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Bishop Donal McKeown.

Bishop McKeown says some priests are now serving in multiple-parish settings.

“In many places, where there used to be up to four priests, there is now, perhaps, only one,” he revealed.

“In other parishes - where there used to be one or two priests - there is now, perhaps, no resident priest and the parishes in question are being served from outside of their traditional boundaries.”

The Bishop says steps have already been taken to ensure that all the people of the diocese will have a priest or priests available to say Mass, hear Confessions, anoint the sick and dying, and officiate at baptisms, weddings and funerals.

They will also carry out a range of other duties, including school chaplaincy and the preparation of children for the sacraments of First Confession, First Holy Communion and Confirmation.

In addition, says the Bishop, a huge amount of work has been undertaken by communities of religious women and men who, he says, have made an enormous contribution to education, social care and health services.

He revealed that, currently, the diocese has five men in formation for the priesthood - one of whom was ordained at the weekend.

“Please God, another will be ordained a deacon next month,” he said. “Our Diocesan Vocations Council is working with a number of men who are discerning their vocation and these are being mentored by some of the priests of the diocese.”