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Facing the Reality of Fewer Priests

3.50

The priests of Cloyne Diocese recently completed an exercise on facing up to the reality of our declining presence in the parishes of north and east County Cork. That reality is plain to all, part of the national trend, but one we had not previously addressed as a group. Like most men, priests have quite the capacity for assuming that life will continue as it always has, until suddenly it doesn’t. The exercise began with the diocesan office compiling a facts sheet, setting out the evolving demographics of our diocese. The statistics were discussed at deanery meetings in Kanturk, Mallow, Midleton, Fermoy and Macroom; the first time in some years that this forum was convened. The deanery reports were then reviewed at the annual assembly of priests in Killarney, last November, at a session led by Martin Kennedy. Finally, the Council of Priests distilled the discussion into a series of responses, which are summarised here.