In July of last year, I was present at the ordination of Conleth Meehan, a 45-year-old who had worked as a butcher in Co. Tyrone before entering the seminary at Maynooth in 2004. The ceremony took place in the Pro-Cathedral in Marlborough Street in central Dublin, and was accompanied by the commissioning of nine lay pastoral workers, most of them women, who were to take up positions in parishes in the diocese, having undergone a year of intensive training. Meehan was the only Catholic priest to be ordained for the Archdiocese of Dublin, Ireland’s biggest archdiocese, in 2010, and the Pro-Cathedral was full of prominent notices proclaiming the urgent need for more priests. In the 1980s, an average of 150 men began training for the priesthood in Ireland every year. Last year, only sixteen enrolled.
Read the rest of this piece in The Dublin Review 43.