The gathering I had here yesterday afternoon was as good as anything I have had in the whole tour. I have had some that were bigger, but few that had the same atmosphere and warmth as this one. This discussion was busy and interesting, with many hands up for the roving mike at any one time. There was great energy in the hall, and being there gave me a real lift.  Two of my former Redemptorist colleagues from Ireland were present, and we went out to dinner afterwards and had a great chat.

This morning I met with a group of retired priests from this diocese, almost all of whom were native Irish, trained in Thurles.  They were nice men, and it was good to meet them.  But there was a heaviness, almost a weariness, about the discussion that tended to drain rather than to uplift. It convinced me again that the future of the Church will depend on the laity;  the priests are too tired and demoralised.

I am hearing stories here about priests who have come from the far east and other developing countries to work in parishes.  It is not working out too well.  One man was appointed to a parish that has a long history of lay participation. He is about thirty years old.  After only two weeks in the parish he announced what his programme for the parish would be —- and it cut across things that were happening in the parish for up to thirty years.  Not a good way to start.