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Press report on Sydney parishes sharing priests

The Sun-Herald reported yesterday that Sydney parishes "are having to resort to 'twinning' with other parishes to counter a shortage of priests".

Auxiliary Bishop David Cremin told the paper that about 15% of parishes in the Archdiocese are carrying out the "partnering" practice.

The paper says it is a practice that has been used in rural and regional parishes for a long time, but has only recently made its way to Sydney.

Bishop Cremin said it first appeared in Sydney about 20 years ago with the parishes of Peakhurst and Penshurst, but has become more prevalent in the past couple of years.

He said there is also a long-term contingency plan of partnering in place for all parishes in the archdiocese if priests were unable to perform their duty due to illness or retirement and there was no one to take their place.

"Nearly every diocese in Australia would be doing something like that," the bishop said. "We sat down in the past 12 months and took out our maps and looked at which parishes would be likely to be partnered in the event of a shortage of priests.

Bishop Cremin said priests had been asked to talk to their parishes about whether they would prefer merging or would resort to sharing a priest with another parish should the situation arise.

In the northern Sydney Diocese of Broken Bay 16 of 40 parishes are having to partner.

The Sun-Herald also mentioned an increase in the number of men studying to become priests, reported by Auxiliary Bishop Julian Porteous, who is also rector of Sydney's Seminary of the Good Shepherd. Bishop Porteous said this year 39 men were enrolled in the seminary, most in their mid-20s, while five years ago there were 26.

Parishes resort to sharing priests (Sun-Herald 16/5/04 - payment required)

Archdiocese of Sydney
Bishop David Cremin
Seminary of the Good Shepherd
Bishop Julian Porteous

17 May 2004