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Saturday 3 December 2016

Anna Nolan: Damaged church's future now in the hands of a few new priests on the block

Anna Nolan
Anna Nolan
Cara Delevingne

So, there are 14 new priests on the block. Fourteen men, aged from their mid-20s to mid-50s, have been ordained this year. They are fully fledged members of the priesthood and will now take up roles running their parishes.

I was surprised there were that many being ordained. It's well known that numbers of vocations have been dropping over the years. To say that religious life is about to disappear is not an exaggeration.

It was a very different story when I trained to be a nun more than 25 years ago. Although there weren't the numbers from the decades before that, there were still plenty of men and women who wanted to give their lives to God.

celibacy

As a novice for the Loreto Order, I went to a course in Mount Argus, where other trainee nuns and priests attended. There were around 20 of us from orders such as Mercy Nuns, Franciscan Priests and Augustinians.

We did theology, human development and, of course, biblical studies. We were a strange bunch, all working towards a life of celibacy, poverty and obedience. We actually had great fun and were united in something we knew as "a calling".

Looking back at the group, there were definitely a few who had a genuine calling. The rest, as I found out in later years, used this time as a stepping stone into a more open life.

When I made a documentary some years ago for RTE, and tried to find all those who were on that course, I discovered that the majority had left. Some had come to terms with their sexual- ity, including myself. Some had found the institutions they were part of just too conservative. Some had wanted to live a sexual life. Many had given up altogether on their faith.

Since I did that course in 1989, the number of vocations has dropped dramatically.

There are many different reasons for this. Ireland's relationship with the Catholic Church went into a tail-spin when stories of sexual abuse became known. The hold that the church had over its parishioners was loosening anyway, but its dealings with serial child abusers left many devout Catholics devastated.

So what is the appeal for someone now who wants to become a priest or a nun? For those who joined in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, a life with Christ had a lot going for it. You would be educated, you would have a career. And yes, the old "my son is a priest" line ensured that family were seen as slightly above the others in the parish. Having a family member in religious life was cool.

Today, no one gives a damn. You don't need to wear a white collar or a veil to get a degree or a career now. In fact, you're more likely to get a funny look if you wear either. Unless you're at a fancy dress do.

Religious life is more challenging than ever. That's why I admire those 14 men in a way. They are signing up to a way of life fewer people understand or respect. The church needs to change. I wish them well as priests and hope they bring a very old-fashioned institution into the 21st Century.

 

Cara Delevingne is perfectly happy being bisexual, so just live with it

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Bisexuals. Having it all. Can't decide what they want. Wouldn't trust one as far as I could throw one. They're just being greedy. These are some of the things people say. Bisexuals are viewed with suspicion by gay and straight people. And probably very misunderstood.

Model and actress Cara Delevingne had a little pop at Vogue magazine recently. She did an interview, and the journalist concluded that her bisexuality was "just a phase".

She felt so strongly that she released a statement saying she was simply happy with life and happy with her on-off partner, the singer St Vincent (Annie Clarke).

So why did the journalist make this assumption? Why did he write: "Her parents seem to think girls are just a phase for Cara, and they may be correct." Was he hoping this may be the case? Is it more ideal that Cara goes back to good old-fashioned heterosexuality, settle down with a nice man and have 2.4 kids?

Bisexuality challenges everyone. I remember as a young lesbian I couldn't get my head around it. I thought people were not being completely honest when they said they liked a little bit of both. I found it a cop-out and felt they were just too scared to be openly fully gay.

That, of course, is a ridiculous attitude. Sexuality is fluid - it's rarely just gay or straight. We're all on this funny little spectrum of attraction, and we can move up and down on it at different times in our life.

I know I am way up the gay end of the spectrum, but there is of course the odd hunk of a fella that I would think "phwoar" (when I have a few vinos on me).

Cara Delevingne says she's happy where she is in life. And that's with a woman. Who is anyone to pigeonhole her into a sexuality so that they can get their heads around it?

 

Rooftop bar staff true professionals

Sometimes you meet someone working in a restaurant or bar who makes your visit even more enjoyable.

I experienced that on Sunday when I had an amazing time on the rooftop of the Marker Hotel.

Apart from the incredible views and the sunny sky, I was minded by a very nice man called Derek, who made sure the drinks came thick and fast.

So a big shout out to Derek and also the lovely Graham.

Thanks for minding us, lads.

 

Mick's run-in with shark is a shocker

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Watching surfer Mick Fanning getting attacked by a shark in South Africa is something else.

You see the fin appear and then you see Fanning being dragged into the water.

If I thought it horrendous to watch, imagine what his mother was feeling, watching the surfing live on television.

Thankfully, Fanning managed to kick and punch the shark and swim to safety, with no obvious injuries.

If you're feeling brave, you can watch the attack on Youtube.

 

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