I am sure this topic has come up in the past here at Being Frank…but not in the last year or so, therefore time for another round of discussion!
In the past fortnight I've had the fortune to sit in small meetings with two diffferent Bishops. Both talked on a range of issues, including the Priest shortage we currently face, which clearly is presenting real challenges for them in their role as leaders of their dioceses. While we've already adjusted to pastoral areas, shared parishes etc, the situation actually worse than we might think. Of currently serving priests, a huge percentage are due to retire in the next few years, and those coming through are nowhere near enough to replenish the ranks. The era of "one priest, one parish" is almost certainly over.
Some will view this situation differently. Maybe it isn't a crisis at all, just a changing dynamic which like any change in life we just have to respond to. Unforeseen fruits may emerge from this change. Perhaps the Church of the future will be priestless. Or perhaps the famine will be followed by a flood.
What do you think about the priest shortage in NZ? Any suggestions on how to change it? Or is it a season of change that we should embrace rather than fear?