There will be just six first year seminarians at the national seminary when classes resume later this month, according to figures obtained by The Irish Catholic. It is thought to be the lowest number on record in Maynooth’s 222 year history.
While returns from 25 of the country’s 26 dioceses show that 15 men have begun studying for Irish dioceses this year, many of them will participate in a so-called propaedeutic or preparatory year in anticipation of starting in the seminary in 2018.
The fall-off in Maynooth numbers is also due – in part – to the presence of a number of mature students this year who will be formed at the Pontifical Beda College in Rome which specialises in priestly training for older candidates.
In all, 15 of Ireland’s 26 dioceses have no new students either entering seminary or participating in the preparatory year. A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Dublin told The Irish Catholic that it expected to have new seminarians but was unable to confirm how many until next week.
Killaloe diocese will send two new seminarians to Maynooth, while Tuam, Elphin, Kilmore and Cork & Ross diocese will send one student each.
A survey carried out by The Irish Catholic this week reveals an increasing trend to ask candidates for formation to undertake the propaedeutic year first. The year is usually completed in Spain, however, two students of the Derry diocese will complete their preparatory year in the diocese.
In all, five students will participate in the propaedeutic year, one will attend the Pontifical Irish College in Rome, two will attend the Beda and one Down & Connor student will begin his formation at St Malachy’s College in Belfast.
New seminarians in 2017
Ardagh & Clonmacnoise 0
Cashel and Emly 0
Cork & Ross 1 (Maynooth)
Down & Connor 2 (1* and 1 to St Malachy’s)
Dublin Number unavailable
Elphin 1 (Maynooth)
Kildare & Leighlin 1*
Killaloe 2 (Maynooth)
Kilmore 1 (Maynooth)
Meath 1 (Pontifical Beda College, Rome)
Tuam 3 (Maynooth, Pontifical Irish College and Pontifical Beda College, Rome)
Waterford & Lismore 0