THE diocese of Cork and Ross will see 12 priests retire over the next 16 months, which will lead to the greater involvement of the lay community in the running of the diocese’s 68 parishes.
Bishop Fintan Gavin said the first parish to be impacted is Ardfield and Rathbarry, where the parish priest is due to retire in September.
But with 11 more parish priests due to retire the following year, he said ‘there’s a lot of change about to happen.’
‘We are breaking new ground,’ he added. ‘It is innovative and we will be learning to do this together.’
The bishop said the diocese will not be in a position to replace each priest.
As a result, it will have to look at new ways of providing pastoral care and service to parishes, and that means co-responsibility, working together, and sharing responsibilities.
‘This is the beginning of a new process,’ said Bishop Gavin. He described what is happening, and what is about to happen, as ‘changing a culture and change can be challenging.’
‘But with a diminishing number of priests, this is the new reality and we will have to embrace the challenge positively.’