Irish American Deacon says Catholic church requires strong leadership
Irish American Deacon Shane Sullivan to be ordained in Ireland
Catholic priests in Ireland face a huge task in re-establishing Irish society's trust as a result of the child abuse scandal and will require strong leadership, according to an Irish American deacon currently studying in Ireland.
The son of an Irish emigrant, Shane Sullivan, 26, was ordained a deacon on Sunday, January 29 in Maynooth, Co. Kildare. A Minnesota native, he is to be ordained into the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Tuam on Sunday, June 3, in Tuam Cathedral, Co. Galway.
The January ceremony marked the last phase in the formation of Sullivan as a seminarian before his ordination into the priesthood in June.
Speaking about the challenges the Catholic Church in Ireland now face, Sullivan says strong leadership is required.
“The church has lost a huge amount of credibility because of the child sex-abuse crisis and being too comfortably entwined with secular powers,” he told the Irish Voice.
“There's a huge task any Christian faces in earning Irish society's trust back after such a let-down. It will take nothing less than God's gracious care, coupled with strong leadership and a courageous re-commitment to what we stand for as Catholics.”
A proud Irish American, Sullivan’s father Bart immigrated from Kilkieran in Connemara to Chicago in the 1970s, where he later met and married his wife Kathleen.
Sullivan told the Irish Voice about the strong sense of Irish heritage his parents fostered while growing up in Minnesota.
“There aren't many Irish in central Minnesota, people there are mostly of German and Scandinavian extraction, so it was also something which made us unique,” he said.
“It was always a big part of our identity growing up. Dad taught us some phrases in Irish, we listened to lots of trad music. Dad and Mom both instilled a pride and love of Ireland and our Irish heritage in us.”
Sullivan is currently studying at Ireland’s national seminary at St. Patrick’s College in Maynooth. Since it was founded in 1795, it has ordained more than 11,000 priests.
Before transferring to Ireland in 2008, Sullivan studied for three years at the University of St. Thomas. He said that he got the calling for priesthood during his adult years.
“I was not a guy you would have pinpointed for the priesthood when I was growing up,” admits Sullivan.
As a result of the sexual abuse crisis within the Catholic Church in Ireland as well as decreasing vocation numbers, Sullivan was inspired to move to Ireland to study at Ireland’s national seminary at St. Patrick’s College in Kildare.
“I felt a real stirring in my heart,” Sullivan said. “You want to go to where you can be of assistance.
“There are currently 65 seminarians studying to serve in the Catholic Church in Ireland today, training for what the church calls the New Evangelization. This is the representation of the awesome truth of the Gospel to the modern world.
“There is one other guy from New Mexico. Everybody else is Irish,” he added.”
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