Twelve Begin Formation for Priesthood at Maynooth

The president of the national seminary in Maynooth has announced that this year’s intake of new seminarians totals twelve, a slight drop on last year.

The twelve first-year seminarians include three from the diocese of Dublin, two from Down & Connor, two from Kerry and one each from Clogher, Cloyne, Ferns, Meath and Raphoe.  Last year, 13 men began studies in Maynooth, while in 2010 the figure was 10 while in 2009, it was 24.

The twelve will begin their formation studies in September and at the conclusion of the introductory programme at the end of September, three of the new seminarians from Northern dioceses will move to St Malachy’s College in Belfast to continue their studies.  The total number of seminarians in Maynooth will be approximately 64 at the end of September.

The figure compares poorly with the number of men training for the priesthood in England and Wales, which this year reached its highest level for nearly two decades.  According to figures released by the bishops' conference of England and Wales, there are now more than 200 seminarians preparing to serve in English and Welsh dioceses, the first time this figure has been reached since 1994.

Of the 200 plus seminarians in training, 185 are diocesan priests while the rest belong to religious orders.  There has also been a rise in ordinations.  Thirty-five priests were ordained this year, which was up from 20 in 2011.  In 2013, the number of men ordained is due to rise to 38.

The numbers enrolling in seminaries in England and Wales hit an all-time low at the beginning of the new century but has since seen a significant turnaround, rising from 26 in 2001 to 56 in 2010. 

The National Office for Vocations in the UK launched an, “ambitious,” three-year framework for vocations earlier this year.

Welcoming the new candidates for the priesthood to Maynooth, as well as their families and friends, the President of St Patrick's, Mgr Hugh Connolly, described 2012 as, “a particularly memorable year for the Church in Ireland," as the Irish Church had played host to the successful 50th International Eucharistic Congress in June.

“As the Universal Church prepares to celebrate a special Year of Faith, which will mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council in October, may the year ahead be an opportunity for all of us to appreciate the gift of our faith, deepen our relationship with God and strengthen our commitment to sharing our faith with others,” Mgr Connolly added.

St Patrick’s College Maynooth has been forming men for the priesthood since 1795.  The College comprises the seminary and the Pontifical University, which offers degrees in theology, philosophy and theology and arts.

Its current trustees are the four Irish archbishops together with 13 other senior bishops.

By Sarah Mac Donald

© 2002-2



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