A new survey by The Irish Catholic has found that there are four times the number of men beginning studies for the priesthood in England and Wales than there are in Ireland.

A survey of seminaries showed that 57 men entered a priestly formation program in England and Wales this year compared to 14 men who entered the seminary in Ireland, despite the fact that Ireland has 4.65 million Catholics while England and Wales have only 4 million.

Fr Willie Purcell, Ireland’s National Coordinator for Diocesan Vocations, told The Irish Catholic that the Church in Ireland needs to adopt strategies similar to those used to attract vocations in countries such as England and Wales.

He said they have “many discernment programs which we are now looking at implementing here on a diocesan level.

Read more: Only 13 students sign up for the priesthood in Ireland

“The whole situation hangs on the question of discernment and we are moving into that now.”

Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin said that attracting priestly vocations is “vital” for the future of the Church.

“Some people take the attitude that ‘it will be okay for my time’ but we have a responsibility for the generations that will follow us. If they are to have the Eucharist and the sacraments then we need to have priests. It’s non-negotiable,” said Bishop Doran.

“We need to seek out and be unapologetic in inviting young people to the priesthood. I have been doing this and will continue to do so.”

Source: The Irish Catholic