Thursday 30 March 2017

Paralympics success is inspirational


I WANT to begin this week by saying a quick word about the Paralympics which are being held in London at the moment. Ireland has been well represented not only in terms of numbers of athletes competing, but also in terms of the medal haul.

These people are nothing less than heroes. Their success at these games is phenomenal, especially considering the obstacles they have had to overcome to be able to compete at the highest level of the Paralympics. Their fortitude and courage, in the face of their individual disabilities is truly inspirational.

Sadly, while these courageous men and women are doing their country proud, their country is not doing them proud at all, in fact their country is dishonouring them.

What I'm referring to is the fact that outside Leinster House this week hundreds of people with disabilities, and their Carers and family members, were forced to protest in order to stop the government from making cuts which would directly impact on their ability to live independently, receive education, obtain employment, travel and participate within their communities. Indeed, these cuts would certainly have impacted on the heroes and future heroes of the Paralympics. Thankfully since the protests, someone in government saw fit to row back at least some of the cuts, and those with disabilities won't be affected quite so badly. SHORTAGE OF PRIESTS

Last week the National Seminary at St Patrick's College, Maynooth, announced they had 12 new entrants commencing their studies for the priesthood this year. In light of the clerical abuse scandals of the past decade, and indeed the Audit reports which were published just last week into certain dioceses and religious orders, 12 seems like a fairly good number.

However, the truth is that Ireland is in a very precarious situation. Numbers are dropping drastically. The age profile of priests in increasing dramatically, and the future is far from clear. The latest survey of diocesan priests (2011) reveals that there are a total of just under 2,000 priests working in parishes in Ireland's 26 dioceses at present. Of these, 86% are over the age of 45, and one third are over the age of 65.

If we were to suppose that for the next 20 years there were 12 new priests ordained annually, all of whom were aged 25 upon ordination, then in the year 2032 there would be only 520 priests under the age of 65.

All these figures lead to only one conclusion: there will be a severe shortage of priests in Ireland in 20 years time. So what can be done, now, to help alleviate the inevitable dearth? Some dioceses are already clustering parishes, in an attempt to utilise the manpower available efficiently but it's not really a long-term solution.

The other side of the coin though is the question of whether there will be a need for as many priests in the future? A lot of people who simply don't believe in God or in organised religion are choosing to stay away from church and be authentic in their lack of belief rather than just turning up because 'it's the done thing'.

And of course there's always the option of empowering lay people to lead parishes and preside at liturgies and worship events. Perhaps even women might get a look-in?

Why not plant a long-lived tree? 

Andrew Collyer - Practical Gardening March 5 to 12 was National Tree Week. This is an awareness week organised by the Tree council of Ireland to promote all things trees. It has been an annual event since 1985 and should be embraced and celebrated with gusto in my opinion. Where the National tree week really becomes valuable is in schools where the education of the young in tree importance will hopefully produce a generation of responsible environmentally aware adults in the future.

Getting creative about a better quality of life 

Conor Nelligan, County Heritage Officer The Centenary Commemoration of 1916 was a tremendous success in the County of Cork, as it was across the entire nation. In response to the heightened sense of shared identity that was established in 2016, and in respect of the breadth of cultural activity and public engagement that took place, the Government has embarked on an insightful legacy project that sets out to harness the country's culture, arts and heritage over the next five years with the purpose of...

Do animals feel grief after suffering loss of someone 

Peter Wedderburn - Animal Doctor Both of my parents have passed away in the last year: they were both elderly, and had enjoyed long and fruitful lives, so there was much to be thankful for. The experience of losing them has taught me a direct personal lesson about grief. This must be one of the deepest emotions felt by humans, and I am often asked if animals experience the same feeling when they lose a close friend, whether a human owner or a fellow animal companion.

Promoted articles