For the first time in recent years there have been no new enrollments at Clonliffe College, the Catholic diocesan seminary in Dublin.
Father Allen Hillard is a curate in the growing parish of Lucan south in County Dublin, home to over four thousand families. He entered Holy Cross College (also called Clonliffe College) in Drumcondra in 1979, the same year that Pope John Paul II visited Ireland.
There has been a steady decrease in the number of vocations to the priesthood since that time, with just fifteen seminarians studying in Clonliffe today.
For the first time in recent years, the institution which has educated and trained men to become Catholic priests for almost one hundred and forty years will have no new students this autumn.
A different approach to priesthood in a parish is now required believes Father Hillard, with more emphasis on lay participation,
The people in the parish will take much more responsibility for their parish.
A survey of Dublin's diocesan priests published earlier this year highlighted the development of an adequate form of lay ministry as their main concern. The absence of new seminarians at Clonliffe College at the start of the new academic year adds a new urgency to this task.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 29 September 1997. The reporter is Joe Little.