By Susan Gately - 24 July, 2015
The Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy has predicted that the deepening involvement of laity in response to the fall off in priestly vocations will serve to bring the Church closer together.
Speaking as he announced a small number of clerical changes across the diocese, Bishop Leahy said that the faithful is responding to its calling to play a greater role in pastoral ministry by showing a clear intent and desire to enhance its role in the Church.
Next year Limerick is to hold a Diocesan Synod. “The future will clearly involve many new arrangements around pastoral ministry in parishes but the more we progress on the road to the Synod and the preparations across the diocese, the more optimistic I am about how we are going to meet this,” said Bishop Leahy. “What’s clear is that in recent years many lay people are very much answering a new calling to them at this stage of the Church’s journey and what started out as a real challenge for us is quickly being transformed into an opportunity.”
Bishop Leahy said the build up to the Synod and the Synod itself, would be an opportunity to “create a pathway for the enhanced involvement of laity in ministry”.
But he urged men who felt a ‘vocational calling’ – to submit to it, and consider priesthood. A religious vocation could be challenging with moments of loneliness, said the bishop. It was certainly “a road less travelled”. But, he continued, “no path is free of challenges or moments of loneliness and priests would readily admit that there is a huge sense of fulfilment in the role, particularly in the service of God.”
He believed there were young men with “an idea” at the back of their minds. “Somehow they haven’t got around to talking to someone about it. I encourage them to do so as we need them. I would encourage particularly young men not to leave it go until they are older. God loves a cheerful and generous giver. To give their lives to God in their youth is a good thing and is a big gift for the Church and society.”
The bishop of Limerick thanked the priests of the diocese and the lay people who “are taking on a new sense of co-responsibility in the planning and organising of the parish life”. For most, their commitment is lived out in the family, work and society at large. “It is there they are called to reach out particularly to others who are in any way on the periphery. Indeed, it should be a distinctive feature of Catholics today that they are mindful of people who are often forgotten in society – the homeless, the migrants, the socially disadvantaged,” he added.