A FORMER pub manager will swap pulling pints for saving souls as he begins his studies for the priesthood.
The identity of all 22 new seminarians who start at St Patrick's College, Maynooth, Co Kildare, is private but, along with the publican, they include a chartered surveyor, a school leaver and mature students.
The average age of the candidates is 25 years old and they come from 14 of the 26 dioceses of Ireland.
It is a considerable increase on last year when just 16 candidates started at St Patrick's College.
President of St Patrick's College Monsignor Hugh Connolly Sunday welcomed the students and thanked their families for supporting them.
"The road ahead has many challenges," he said.
He urged the men's families and friends to continue to support the new students by "simply continuing to be yourselves with them and not altering how you relate to them".