CELIBACY and commitment are the causes of a priest shortage in the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat.Bishop Peter Connors' assistant Vin Dillon said such issues were contributing to a decline in the number of men entering the priesthood.He hoped a Ballarat Dialogue, the first phase of the development of a plan that will guide future decision-making around the ministry of the parishes, would help ease the problem."Committing yourself to one job for a life time is a different notion for this generation," Mr Dillon said yesterday."The young generation is not as attracted to the church as in previous generations."Mr Dillon confirmed Our Lady Help of Christians in Wendouree had lost its priest, Justin Driscoll, who had transferred to St Patrick's Cathedral in Ballarat.The church then got a temporary priest, who left and was replaced by another priest short-term."There was a need for one parish not to have a resident priest for a six-month period. For six months the priest will not live there. New arrangements will be made once we complete our dialogues," Mr Dillon said.Fr Driscoll's duties extend to St James Church in Sebastopol and St Columba's in Ballarat North, he said."It's a situation we are now finding we have to do more and more," Mr Dillon said. He said there was a shortage in most other dioceses, but the Diocese of Ballarat was more clear."It shows up starkly in the country diocese. In metropolitan places and Melbourne, it does not appear as stark. The (country) parishes are an hour and a half away which makes it look a lot worse," Mr Dillon said.Bishop Connors was unavailable for comment yesterday.
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