Don't give up on religious orders, pleads Archbishop
Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin has appealed to all sections of the Catholic Church in Ireland to support and encourage members of religious orders.
In an address at a Mass to mark the contribution of 3,211 nuns, priests and brothers in his diocese, Dr Martin acknowledged that many felt that the future of religious life is "problematic", a reference to the ageing profile and decline in numbers.
He said while some religious feel they are getting old and can't change anything, the Archbishop told them to look at Pope Francis, who is now 79.
"I say to all those here today who are under 79 that there is no reason why you should feel it is time to step back and throw in the towel," he told almost 1,000 men and women gathered at St Brigid's Church in Killester.
The Vicar for Religious in Dublin, Sr Elizabeth Cotter told the Irish Independent that, in religious life, you never retire.
"We are consecrated to the day we die. In consecrated life we have this fundamental belief that I am on mission for the Lord until the day I die," the 63-year-old nun said.
Among the congregation at yesterday's Mass was a 28-year-old Dominican friar who is in a new video promoting religious life which has become a YouTube success.
Dominican Brother Conor McDonagh said: "I entered the Dominicans partly because there were so many young brothers but one of the reasons I've stayed is because of the help I've been given by the older members... Some people see religious life as sad and lonely, but for me it has been a real path of joy."
However, not everyone was happy with the ceremony. One 77-year-old nun walked out early in protest at the lack of a female presence on the altar.
She later told the Irish Independent: "I am not a man-hater and I don't want to be a priest, but the Archbishop talked about equality and I felt I can't take any more of this. I was here to celebrate St Brigid and all the women of Ireland and there wasn't a woman beyond the altar rails."