Rockhampton Bishop treks to India

CATHOLIC Bishop of Rockhampton Brian Heenan is in India, reportedly on a mission to recruit young priests.

Yesterday, the bishop’s office confirmed his return to Australia next week and said he wouldn’t be able to speak until then.

The ABC is reporting that Bishop Heenan is appealing to priests from other nations to fill Australia’s shortage.

Regional areas particularly were finding it hard to find priests.

“These priests can come, please God, for maybe two years or three years and then if all is going well they’ll probably go back to India, and others will come and take their place,” Bishop Heenan told the ABC’s PM program.

He will spend more than a week in India visiting various religious orders and said a number of Catholic priests had already expressed interest in coming to Australia.

“Most of the dioceses have journeyed overseas as I am doing,” Bishop Heenan said.

“To South America, or to South Africa, or to the Philippines, or to Europe, including India simply because other countries are having the same experience, that not as many young people are offering themselves for the priesthood at this time.

“Therefore we simply have to look elsewhere to see if we can find others to come and be there for our people.

“The whole matter of candidates for priesthood has been looked at through various studies, with the outcome that the reasons for those not taking up a vocation to priesthood are various and there are a number of factors contributing to the decline in priest numbers.”

The ABC’s PM program reported Bishop Heenan as saying young people were not attracted to the priesthood as they had been in the past.

“One of the reasons is that there are so many opportunities available for young people once they’ve finished their education up to year 12,” he said.

“I think they find those much more attractive than going off to a seminary or to a training college, where the rate of recompense, or pay, is very ordinary.

“If one offers himself for the priesthood in this particular age, and for some time of course, it’s seen as a commitment to remain single, so that the person can give themselves completely to the mission or the ministry of Jesus or the priestly life.”

He said recruiting from overseas was not new.

“There’s a little bit of a deja vu experience here,” he said.

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