A decline in priests could lead to fewer masses in Cooley

Due to a decline in priests on Cooley Peninsula, the Pastoral Council have suggested reducing the number of masses in the parish

Due to a decline in priests on Cooley Peninsula, the Pastoral Council have suggested reducing the number of masses in the parish

According to the Parish news bulltetin: “Aware of the continuing decline in priests available and conscious of the needs of the Peninsula Pastoral Area, the Parish Pastoral Council propose to reduce the number of Masses at weekends. It is now proposed that from 1st September 2012, Masses will be celebrated as follows: Saturday 6.00pm – Mullaghbuoy; Sunday 10.00am – Boher; and Sunday 11.30am – Grange.

The Dundalk Democrat spoke to Fr Tommy McNulty who says that it is a case of having “fewer but better massses”.

“It is a bit of a case of preparing for the future. The congregation in the parish have a number of different churches to go to, and with cars and things, there probably is the need for quite as many masses as before. We are living in changing times.

“It would only be a very slight adjustment. The mass that was on on Saturday night in Grange would be swithced to Mullaghbuoy.

“There are less men wanting to become priests,” said Fr McNulty who has been in the parish for the last two and half years. “You have to deal with these things the best you can.

“I think if young people get more involved with the church and are more exposed to the vocation side of things then maybe more would get the calling.”

The situation in the Cooley Peninsula is reflected across the State, where the numbers in the priesthood are in a seemingly unassailable decline.

The average age of the Irish Catholic priest today is 64. His retirement age is 75.

In 2032 the average age will be higher still, with a greater proportion of Irish priests in retirement.

Of the 1,965 priests currently in parish ministry in Ireland, 838 are 54 years and under.