Ireland Looks Toward India to Meet Shortage of Priests

The appointment of Rev Francis Xavier Kochuveettil and Rev Rexon Chullickal was made as a part of Diocesan Clerical Appointments for 2018 in Ireland.


In an attempt to plug the shortage and address the growing age gap in its population of clerics, a Catholic diocese in Ireland has appointed two priests from Kerala. The appointment of the two priests — Rev Francis Xavier Kochuveettil and Rev Rexon Chullickal — was made over the weekend by Bishop Fintan Monahan of Killaloe as a part of Diocesan Clerical Appointments for 2018 in southwest Ireland, the Hindustan Times reported. The Killaloe Diocese is the second largest Roman Catholic Diocese in the country.

Father Tom Ryan, a parish priest from Shannon in County Clare, called it a sign of times. More priests from India are on their way, he said, the Times reported. “There are more (Indian priests) on the way. It is a sign of the times. This is history repeating itself, but in reverse. When Ireland had an over-supply of priests in the 1950s, Irish priests traveled across the world and there is an over-supply of priests in India right now and they are helping out here,” he was quoted as saying in the report.

Most members of the priesthood in Ireland are above the age of 50 years, the report added.

The new appointments are scheduled to take effect from July 20.

Indian participation in churches in the neighboring United Kingdom has been growing in recent years. The Vatican established a new eparchy for the Syro-Malabar community in 2016 with the ancient St Ignatius Church in Preston, north England, as its cathedral. Kottayam-born Father Joseph Srampickal was appointed by Pope Francis as the first bishop of the eparchy, HT reported.

The Syro-Malabar community in the United Kingdom comprises around 40,000 people. Their origins can be traced back to Kerala, due to which the services in church in Preston are held in Malayalam, the report added.

Indian Christians in the United Kingdom fall in three groups that came to the country at various times, and consists of members from Kerala, Goa and Punjab. People from the northeast also constitute a small group. The Goan link is said to be the oldest, with the community thronging congregations in Swindon, Hounslow, Southall and other areas. The Punjabi Christians, who came to the country in the 1950s, are settled in Bedford, Coventry, Oxford and Birmingham. The northeastern tribes, who were converted to Christianity during the colonial rule, moved to areas such as Wales to meet the shortage of priests there.

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