26 new seminarians have commenced their formation for the priesthood at the National Seminary, St Patrick's College Maynooth. At the conclusion of the Introductory Programme at the end of September, six of the new seminarians will continue their studies at St Malachy's College in Belfast. Welcoming the new candidates, their families and friends to Maynooth, the President of the College, Monsignor Dermot Farrell, said: "I am encouraged by the recent upward trend in vocations to the priesthood. There are always individuals who sense that they have a vocation; what we need is to find ways to invite them personally to consider the priesthood. Being admitted to seminary is only the first step in an enriching process of preparation that takes six or seven years. The seminary is more than bricks and mortar: it is an experience of the Church's life that enables candidates to grow in the love and knowledge of Jesus Christ. One day, God willing, these seminarians, will be ordained to the priesthood." Recalling the words of Scripture, Monsignor Farrell said: "The harvest is rich, but the labourers are few; pray therefore to send labourers into his harvest." Monsignor Farrell continued: "I would ask that Catholics pray for vocations and support candidates for the priesthood because every Catholic community needs generous and holy priests to proclaim the Gospel and celebrate the sacraments. The Mass is central to our faith: ordained ministers are a permanent guarantee of the sacramental presence of Christ." At the end of September the total number of seminarians in Maynooth will be 71. A breakdown, by diocese, of the 26 first year seminarians for 2006 is as follows: Armagh (two); Cloyne (one); Cork and Ross (two); Derry (five); Donegal (three); Dublin (five); Kildare and Leighlin (three); Kerry (one); Meath (one); Raphoe (one), Tuam (one) and Waterford and Lismore (one).
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