This weekend we have a collection for ‘Lay Ministry”, it replaces the traditional collection for the support of students for the priesthood, which we normally had on the Sunday after Good Shepherd Sunday with all its emphasis on vocations. So, last weekend we may have heard that there is not one single solitary seminarian training for the ordained ministry in the Dublin Diocese. From a population of 1.3 million people, with all those homes, parishes, schools and colleges, no one at all has discerned that call at this moment.

The Holy Spirit has the same task and responsibility to the Father and the Son, to move deep in the hearts of people of faith, and move them to seek to leadership in service of the Christian community. Priesthood and the religious life served the church well for centuries, but now that huge movement has come to a pause.

If we believe that the Spirit hasn’t given up, taken a break, left these shores for more fertile places, that same Spirit must be moving into the hearts and minds of men and women with a new purpose. I’ve no doubt that the exclusion of women from ordained ministry has contributed to this crisis, and now neither men nor women are being ordained, so I imagine that the new models of ministry are for everyone.

We have always had powerful lay leaders in the Catholic Church, both in the local parishes and in the movements and organisations which have given expression to compassionate care in medical, educational and social arenas. So now we must seek out those who have the capacity and competence to take up leadership. Those who can contribute much in a voluntary capacity are invaluable but in justice there must also be funded posts at every level of church activity if we are to grow stronger.

So, do please contribute to the collection and then demand to see that the monies given are translated in the training and remuneration for catechists, pastoral leaders, youth animators, music ministry, and social media experts. We have to invest in people and support them, and then they can take on roles in the local church in a manner that benefits us all.