For 2020 – 2021, thirteen new seminarians have begun their formation and academic programme for Irish dioceses. New students are currently in formation in the Pontifical Beda College, Rome, with others undertaking the propaedeutic programme in the Redemptoris Mater Seminary, Dundalk, Archdiocese of Armagh; Royal English College, Valladolid, Spain; and, Royal Scots College, Salamanca, Spain. This brings to 72 the total number studying for the priesthood.

There are four stages of what is called initial priestly formation, three of which take place in a major seminary. These three stages include studies in Philosophy, Theology and Pastoral Ministry.

The Propaedeutic Stage is a distinct stage that takes place in a recognised seminary, approved by the Holy See and the relevant Bishops’ Conference. Upon completion of this programme, the seminarian, with the nomination of his bishop, then applies to a seminary to continue his formation for an Irish diocese.

Commenting on the 2020 – 2021 intake of seminarians, Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, chair of the Bishops’ Council for Vocations, said, “While we are all aware of the great challenges facing the Church and society at this time, we know also that God the all-powerful is always with us. These formation figures released today offer us a sign of hope.

Bishop Cullinan continued, “In his message for Vocations/Good Shepherd Sunday on 3 May last, Pope Francis asked us to find courage to say ‘yes’ to God, to overcome all weariness through faith in Christ. My prayer is that all who are being called to diocesan priesthood will have that courage to say ‘yes’ to God`s call!”

Father Willie Purcell, National Diocesan Vocations Coordinator for the Bishops’ Conference said, “The role we have as Vocations Directors is to help young people realise that each one of them has a unique calling from Christ, and we aim to support them in answering that call, particularly in the case of those who are discerning vocations to the priesthood or religious life. I take this opportunity to thank all the vocations directors across the country for their work in accompanying those who are discerning a vocation to priesthood.”

For information on priesthood in Ireland and for contact details for local diocesan vocations directors, please see www.vocations.ie.

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