I was talking to a priest recently, who said that people need to begin to realise how much things are about to change. Such is the shortage of priests in the Lancaster Diocese, that the present arrangement of parishes and avilability of Masses is sustainable for just a few more years. The majority of Diocesan priests are getting old and there is no possibility of vocations, even if there was an immediate surge, being able to replace those who retire or die.
It's interesting that we are also at the beginning of the Year of Faith, when the Holy Father is calling on us to grow in faith; for those who have lapsed to consider returning and for evangelisation to open the door to new converts. So we have this contrast of declining numbers of pastors in this Diocese, and probably most of the Western world, at a time where the Church is seeking to grow in faith and in numbers.
I do not know what plans there are in the Diocese to manage this existential problem. Can the situation regarding the decline in the number of priests be improved, before we reach the critical mass point where the church in this area is no longer sustainable? Or is there an alternative that allows communities to meet and to share the Eucharist and fellowship?
We must first and foremost pray and trust in God. Then we must avoid bitter reaguard actions to defend the indefensible ie keeping the status quo. And we should perhaps look at the future with some eager anticipation. If we trust God then we walk confidently forward with him. It is
possible that where he leads us is better than where we are coming from.