The diocese of Ferns is to get its first new priests for several years next weekend when two men are ordained in St. Aidan’s Cathedral in Enniscorthy.
Bishop Denis Brennan will officiate at the ordination to the priestly ministry on Sunday of Patrick Duffy and James Cullen, both of whom will serve in the Diocese of Ferns.
The ordinations go a small way to reversing the sharp decline in the number of working priests in
the Ferns diocese.
They also break a long period in which the diocese saw no new clerical students emerged for ordination.
Rev Cullen, from Castlebridge, is in his early 30s and the youngest of a family of eleven. He said that as early as when he made his First Communion, he gave thought to what he wanted to be when he grew up, and, “among other things, priesthood was one.”
He also was, “thinking strongly,” about the priesthood at the end of secondary school but instead took a job in Enniscorthy with Datapac Ltd for seven years.
“The pay was good, company car and company mobile, but there was something missing.”
The priesthood was still at the back of his mind, Rev Cullen said, and in 2003, he decided to take time out to travel and made a seven-stop round the world trip with the main stop in Australia.
On return to Ireland in 2004, he contacted diocesan vocations director Fr. Jim Finn and in August 2005, entered the seminary in Maynooth.
There, he took an Arts degree in Philosophy and Anthropology and a Higher Diploma in Pastoral Studies, as part of which, he did a pastoral year working four days a week in St. Aidan’s Cathedral parish in Enniscorthy.
Rev Cullen described his imminent ordination as a personal Pentecost and a splendid challenge.
Rev Duffy, who is from Newcastle in the Wicklow end of the diocese, has been studying at Rome’s Beda College, which specialises in accommodating priesthood candidates with life experience.
He worked as a teacher for years in Ballycoog near Avoca before pursuing his vocation and will celebrate one of his first Masses in the Oratory at Newcastle on June 30.
In addition to its two new priests, there is further modest good news for the Ferns diocese in that an Enniscorthy man, Barry Larkin, is studying at the same college in Rome as Rev Duffy.