Reunited priests urged to keep hope in hearts
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, last night urged more than 100 Catholic priests to have hope for the future as they returned to their alma mater.
At St Mary's Cathedral, the Archbishop of Westminster celebrated the St Kieran's College reunion Mass to mark the conclusion of the 'Universal Year for Priests'.
During the address, the cardinal made comments which were both challenging and gave hope to those present, according to Bishop of Ossory Seamus Freeman, who celebrated the Mass.
The returning priests who were in attendance came mainly from the UK but also from Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
The Kilkenny college, which dates back to 1782, was the first Catholic school to be opened in Ireland following the relaxation of the penal laws that year and was dubbed the 'earliest Catholic college in the kingdom'.
Those priests who trained in the college, and who returned for last night's ceremony, have also worked in Ireland as well as English-speaking diocese around the world.
At one stage, in 1982, about 700 priests from the college were ministers across the world.
These included positions in England, Scotland, Wales, the US, Canada, Newfoundland, South Africa, Tasmania and New Zealand. This number has now dropped to just over 300 working in diocese across the globe, mostly in the UK and US.
Seminary studies were suspended there in 1994.