By Sarah Mac Donald - 20 July, 2014
The Diocese of Limerick’s newest priest will celebrate his First Mass this morning in his home parish of St Joseph’s following his ordination by Bishop Brendan Leahy on Saturday.
Fr David Casey is a Limerick native and a mature vocation. He studied at the Pontifical Beda College in Rome.
Speaking ahead of Fr Casey’s ordination at St John’s Cathedral, Bishop Leahy said it was a matter to rejoice over.
However, he also highlighted that there won’t be another ordination in the diocese for at least five years.
Of the 115 priests of the diocese, only 78 are in active ministry in parishes and in a recent letter to his priests, the Bishop acknowledged that the workload on them will be heavier in the years ahead.
He signalled that the level of services provided by priests in Limerick will change in the years ahead due to the significant decline in vocations.
“While we can’t yet talk of a massive crisis as we still have a reasonable number of priests in Limerick diocese, we do need to recognise that the services we have provided until now will change,” Bishop Leahy wrote.
“The ageing profile of priests will mean we will have to shape differently the way we provide ministry in the diocese. It is important for priests to work more in teams, supporting one another and also working together possibly serving a number of parishes,” he said.
“Thankfully, lately a number of men have indicated an interest in going for the priesthood. I hope we will see an increase in the number entering the seminary in coming years.”
Bishop Leahy said that he had engaged Fr Eamonn Fitzgibbon, Episcopal Vicar for Pastoral Planning, over recent months to work on his behalf with priests and pastoral area teams to reflect on the changing profile of the diocesan clergy.
“There have been many listening sessions. This work will have to continue right throughout the diocese more and more.”
“I specifically met with priests on several occasions in recent months to reflect together on challenges and opportunities that are opening up for us in the new context of our numbers and age.”
“It is against this background that I made the changes this year. I appreciate some people will be upset to see their priest moving on but the change, if lived well, can be fruitful for the priest and for the parish,” Bishop Leahy explained.
He added, “It’s a chance to begin again to look at our mission, the way we are promoting the Gospel, how lay people are involved in co-responsibility in the local faith community.”