New priests down 50pc as just 16 enter seminary
THE number of men entering the priesthood has dropped by more than 50pc in what a senior cleric described as a "difficult" year for people of faith.
A total of 16 seminarians began their studies to become Catholic priests yesterday, down from 36 last year.
President of St Patrick's College, Maynooth, Monsignor Hugh Connolly, praised their decision in a year that saw "more and more details . . . rightly and justly come to light of the abuses and calamitous failures of the church in our country".
Despite the difficult year and "the sombre mood that has ensued", he said the past two years at the national seminary were positive and had seen a considerable number of men find their vocation in the church.
The number of seminarians beginning their studies had stayed around the 30-mark over the past few years, with 30 joining in 2008, 31 in 2007 and 30 in 2006.