A number of men have started studying for the priesthood in Ireland.
The 17 students are taking up places in St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, the Redemptoris Mater seminary in Dundalk as well as other locations in Ireland and abroad.
The first year for new candidates is an introduction to the priesthood to find out if they are suited to the vocation.
In addition, the Catholic Church is organising a national ‘Come and See’ vocations exploration retreat next month for young men who would like to explore what is involved in becoming a diocesan priest and how to discern whether they have a vocation.
"I am delighted with this initiative of the National Vocations Office," said Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan.
"While we are all aware of the great challenges facing the Church and society at this time, we know also that God the All-powerful is always with us.