We are reaching crisis point in the search for more priests for the Ballarat Diocese. The picture is of course similar in many other Australian dioceses.
With the Ballarat Diocesan Assembly Update having started on 4 June, I would like to invite any parishioners to contact me who would support our group, along with Bishop Peter Connors, in seeking priests from interstate or overseas.
Nine years ago there was a booklet published by the Ballarat Diocese which began the process of joining some parishes together to take account of the number of priests available, while others were left as "priestless parishes". This process has been continuing.
Where priests are unavailable to celebrate Mass each weekend, lay-led services have been put in place. At the same time, the number of practising Catholics has been decreasing, partly due to the fact that many parishioners dislike attending lay-led services.
In some cases, parishioners are not using Catholic churches but paying other denominations to use their churches to have their gatherings. The Catholic churches, paid for and built many years ago by devoted Catholics, are now left to deteriorate.
Meanwhile, there are abundant numbers of priests in such countries as Poland, India and the Philippines.
Whether we want to or not, we are obliged to use all of our resources to supply all Catholic parishes with a priest - not only for ourselves, but for future generations.
Any support or information on the finding of more priests would be welcome. I can be contacted at 350 Mortchup Road, Snake Valley 3351, tel/fax (03) 5349 5558.
Snake Valley, Vic