I know my 2261.06?
There are two tables at the end of the Annual Report 2013 of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland. The report can be downloaded from http://www.safeguarding.ie/annual-report-2013/. The tables give statistics for all the dioceses in Ireland. The source of the information is given as: Diocesan returns, Irish Catholic Directory 2014, Veritas Publications, 2014.
With a total Catholic population in Ireland of 4,635,178, there are 2050 priests active. This means that, on average, there is one priest for every 2,261.06 Catholics. In Dublin diocese where I serve, the Catholic population is given as 1,154,296, with 271 active priests. This is one priest for every 4,259.39 Catholics.
The diocese of Achonry has the lowest number of Catholics, at 34,826, over 23 parishes, with 32 active priests. The diocese of Dromore has the lowest number of active priests, at 27, spread over 22 parishes, with 63,400 Catholics.
The tables do not supply the current age range of priests. Perhaps someone can supply up-to-date information. Recently, Brendan Hoban in What disenchants the Irish diocesan clergy on the ACP website wrote: “… incredibly 65 is the average age of priests in Ireland today.”
A “Report on the age profile of Diocesan priests currently working in Ireland’s Dioceses” in October 2007 from the Council for Research & Development, a Commission of the Irish Bishops’ Conference gives data for 25 of the 26 dioceses of Ireland, as follows:
Ages 25 – 34: 89.
Ages 35 – 44: 373
Ages 45 – 54: 510
Ages 55 – 64: 586
Ages 65 – 74: 611
Ages 75 – 84: 233
Ages 85+: 62
Total: 2464 (that figure is for just 25 dioceses)
The total number of priests serving has reduced by over 400 in the seven years since 2007.
For what is usually called “Good Shepherd Sunday” on 11 May, it may be useful to consider:
1) Who will be the true shepherds in the coming years? How will those shepherds carry out the mission to those outside the fold?
2) What needs to change in the church in Ireland (and worldwide) to ensure that each Christian Eucharistic community will be able to have a full celebration of the Eucharist every Sunday?
We must remember that there is no such thing as a priestless parish. There may not be an ordained priest as is the practice at present, but the parish is a priestly people. How will this take flesh in the coming decades? Are there factors which had value in the past which now are an obstacle to the mission of the church? What new model of ministerial priesthood is called for?