The diocese of Kilmore includes most of Co. Cavan, half of Co. Leitrim and portions of Fermanagh, Sligo and Meath. It is a rural diocese with only a few medium sized urban centres largely in Co. Cavan. The diocese consists of 34 parishes.
Priesthood in Kilmore
The majority of our priests are in parish ministry. Parish ministry entails, preaching the Gospel, celebrating the liturgy and making the sacramental life of the Church – baptism, anointing, marriage – available to parishioners. It involves supporting people at times of sickness, bereavement or other difficulties. Parish ministry involves supporting the work of teachers in our Catholic schools and ensuring that children are adequately prepared to receive the sacraments of First Penance, First Eucharist and Confirmation. The daily work of the priest includes evangelisation and outreach through formal programmes and informal interactions. The priest exercises a duty of care to individuals and families who find themselves in poor circumstances. The work of a priest also includes administration. The parish must be managed in a transparent way and the priest must ensure that financially and with regard to safeguarding and data protection issues, that the parish meets the highest standards. The priest also has responsibility for caring for church property and lands. Much of this work is done collaboratively with the laity so the priest needs to have good leadership and teamwork skills.
Some priests in the diocese are involved in specialised ministries such as hospital, schools and prison chaplaincies.
Do I have a vocation?
A vocation is an inner sense that a person has a calling from Jesus Christ to serve as a priest. This may come at different stages of our lives. It is the role of the Church to help such a person explore whether this is actually a calling to diocesan priesthood or a calling to something else. A person with a sense of being called ought to engage with the call in a free and an open-minded way, knowing that the Church will help him understand his true calling.
If you have a sense that you are being called to the priesthood the first thing to do is to contact the Vocations Director. He will meet you, and in due course, and based on the circumstances of your life-experience help you to discern your call. This will be an open-ended discussion with no fixed deadlines and no pressure. During this period you may be encouraged to avail of spiritual direction or to attend a retreat or to engage in a programme of spiritual or human development.
The basic criteria is that a possible candidate be a practising Catholic and be of sound mind and body. The applicant ought to have at least completed the Leaving Certificate. It is unlikely that the diocese would accept a candidate more than 60 years old.
After some time, on the recommendation of the Vocations Director, the candidate will be formally invited to apply to be considered as a student for the priesthood in the diocese. This will involve an interview with a specialised panel appointed by the bishop. If the application is accepted the candidate moves on to the next stage.
In recent years because candidates from the priesthood come from a wide-range of backgrounds and varied experiences of the church, a year of preparation is spent abroad in Spain to familiarise candidates with the spiritual treasures of the Church. This involves spiritual reading, experiencing different forms of prayer, a basic introduction to Christianity, and learning to live as part of a community modelled on Jesus Christ.
Ireland has two diocesan seminaries: St Patrick’s College Maynooth and the Pontifical Irish College in Rome. Students are assigned to either seminary by the bishop. Most candidates for the priesthood today already have a university degree. So many begin their studies by pursuing a diploma in philosophy followed by a degree in theology. Students also experience a year of pastoral studies. Depending on circumstances most students will spent five to six years preparing for priesthood. Academic work is only one part of the preparation programme. Students are also helped and encouraged to develop humanely, spiritually and pastorally, during their time in seminary.
Fr Ultan McGoohan, Parish Priest of Killann (Bailieborough) is currently Vocations Director. He may be contacted confidentially at email@example.com