CATHOLIC Church parishes are having to resort to ``twinning" with other
parishes to counter a shortage of priests.
Auxiliary Bishop David Cremin said about 15 per cent of parishes in the
Archdiocese of Sydney were carrying out the practice, officially known as
It is a practice that has been used in rural and regional parishes for a long
time, but has only recently made its way to Sydney.
Bishop Cremin said it first popped up in Sydney about 20 years ago with the
parishes of Peakhurst and Penshurst, but had become more prevalent in the past
couple of years.
He said there was also a long-term contingency plan of partnering in place
for all parishes in the archdiocese if priests were unable to perform their duty
due to illness or retirement and there was no one to take their place.
``Nearly every diocese in Australia would be doing something like that," the
``We sat down in the past 12 months and took out our maps and looked at which
parishes would be likely to be partnered in the event of a shortage of priests.
``The priest population is an ageing population."
Bishop Cremin said priests had been asked to talk to their parishes about
whether they would prefer merging or would resort to sharing a priest with
another parish should the situation arise.
Randwick and Randwick North, Mosman and Neutral Bay, Revesby and Revesby
Heights and Blakehurst and Hurstville South are among the parishes having to
In the Diocese of Broken Bay, on the Central Coast, 16 of 40 parishes are
having to partner.
There is some good news on the horizon for the church, though, with an
increase in the number of men studying to become priests.
Auxiliary Bishop Julian Porteous, rector of the Seminary of the Good Shepherd
at Homebush, said this year 39 men were enrolled in the seminary, most in their
mid-20s. Five years ago there were 26.
``There's a sea change among young people," Bishop Porteous said.