Fifteen students begin their studies for the priesthood for Irish dioceses

02 Dec 2023

Catholic Communications Office photo: Bishop Cullinan and seminarians at Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, for the launch of the Year for Vocation to the Diocesan Priesthood 2023 – 2024

  • In total 64 seminarians are currently studying for the priesthood for Irish dioceses

Fifteen new seminarians have begun their 2023-2024 academic programme and priestly formation for Irish dioceses.

Commenting on this year’s intake of seminarians, Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, chair of the Bishops’ Council for Vocations, said, “We must always remind ourselves that this is God’s Church (Acts 20:28).  Today’s figure of fifteen new seminarians represents the reality, and is a clear indication, that God is still calling, and that men are responding with generosity.  I prayerfully commend seminarians to God’s grace.  We need priests and always will.  The priesthood is a precious gift to the Church instituted by Christ and, as we continue to encourage vocations we do so in hope, not because we trust in our human efforts, but because we trust in God.”

Father Willie Purcell, National Diocesan Vocations Coordinator, said, “Especially during this dedicated ‘Year for Vocation to the Diocesan Priesthood’, I warmly welcome the figure of fifteen new students who have ‘taken the risk for Christ’ by entering vocational training to the diocesan priesthood.  Like generations before them, when ordained as priests, they will selflessly serve the mission of the Church along with the sacramental, spiritual and pastoral needs of parishioners across the island of Ireland.  The Church will do everything it can to support seminarians throughout their formation period and during their ministry as priests.  I pray to the Lord in joy and thanksgiving for all vocations to the priesthood.”

The fifteen new students are currently undertaking their Propaedeutic Programme in the Redemptoris Mater Seminary, Dundalk, Archdiocese of Armagh; Royal English College, Valladolid, Spain; and, Royal Scots College, Salamanca, Spain.  These fifteen bring the total number of seminarians studying for the priesthood for Irish dioceses to 64.  See below for the list of seminaries and houses of study where seminarians are undertaking their formation.

The Propaedeutic Stage is a distinct stage that takes place in a recognised seminary, approved by the Holy See and the relevant Bishops’ Conference – see explanation below.  Upon completion of this programme, the seminarian, with the nomination of his bishop, then applies to a seminary to continue his formation for an Irish diocese.


Notes to Editors
  • The following seminaries and houses of study are where seminarians are currently undertaking their formation for Irish dioceses

Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Co Kildare
Redemptoris Mater Seminary, Dundalk, Co Louth
Royal Scots College, Salamanca, Spain
Royal English College, Valladolid, Spain
Pontifical Beda College, Rome

  • In 2016, the Congregation for Clergy, in Rome – which has overall responsibility for seminary formation – issued a new document (Ratio), The Gift of the Priestly Vocation, which is the revised programme for seminary formation.  The Ratio strongly recommends to bishops around the world the introduction of a propaedeutic programme for new candidates who wish to discern their priestly vocation.
  • The Council of Vocations of the Bishops’ Conference is currently promoting a ‘Year for Vocation to the Diocesan Priesthood’ on the theme: ‘Take the Risk for Christ’, and it is running until Vocations/Good Shepherd Sunday on 21 April 2024.  The Year for Vocation is about encouraging conversations about the vocation to the priesthood and consists of regular events in parishes and at pilgrim sites around the country, as well as providing resources for homes and schools.  The National Vocations Office is responsible for managing the Year of Vocations.  For information on priesthood in Ireland and for contact details for local diocesan vocations directors, please contact [email protected] and see