Tag Archives: Vocations boom

More Signs of a Vocations Boom: Seminaries Filling Up Again (Finally!)

I know we can’t really say yet that the “vocations crisis” is over, but I can’t help but hope when I read this sort of news:

This fall the seminary serving the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is welcoming the largest class of seminarians it’s seen since 1980. These glad tidings even made the local news! (HT to American Papist) You can find out more about all the great things happening in the Archdiocese on their vocations Web site: 10000vocations.org. Good stuff!

The Archdiocese of New Orleans is also cautiously optimistic about their “bumper crop” of seminarians, the largest group they’ve had studying at one time in over 25 years!

Encouraging news, right? Well, I have another little tidbit of my own to add… A friend recently informed me that the local seminary college had such a large class of freshmen this year that they didn’t have dorms to house them all. Their solution? Senior seminarians will spend their last year of Philosophy studies living in part of the monastery with the Benedictine monks who run the seminary, thus freeing up enough dorms to house the freshmen. Good news, indeed!

Mary, Mother of Vocations, pray for these young men who long to offer their lives to Your Son!

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Leaving All Things Behind: the Dominican Friars

A friend recently alerted me to this video of the Dominican Friars (Eastern Province) and their 21 new novices.

More evidence of the vocations boom! Even if you don’t believe it’s here yet, you’ve got to admit it must be coming soon…

Learn more about the Dominican Friars on their Web site, www.op-stjoseph.org

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Nashville Dominicans in the News (Yet Again!)

Always great to see the “vocations boom” being covered by the secular media!

To learn more about the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, visit their Web site: http://nashvilledominican.org

(HT to Aggie Catholics)

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More Good News: Ordination Numbers Are Up!

Zenit reports that, according to statistics from 2009, more priests are being ordained worldwide, and there has been a noticeable decrease in the number of men leaving the priesthood. Of course, the number of priests in the United States and Europe is still declining, but the vocation boom in Africa, Asia and Latin America not only cancels out the decline – it actually leaves us with a net increase in the number of priests worldwide!

Like I always say, we have good reason to be optimistic about the “vocations crisis.” Things are (finally) looking up!

Lord, send us priests! Send us many priests! Send us many holy priests!

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Poor Clares of Lerma Form New Religious Order

About a month ago, I stumbled across this video of Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap. (Preacher to the Papal Household and author of the fantastic book Virginity: A Positive Approach to Celibacy for the Sake of the Kingdom) visiting a vibrant group of young Poor Clares at a convent in Spain. Because the clearest versions of this video are the originals in Italian and Spanish, the one I’ve posted below is not subtitled. (If you really want English subtitles, you can go here – but I have a feeling you’ll agree they aren’t really necessary!)

Beautiful, right? Since that video was posted in 2009, when there were already a whopping 140 sisters in the convent at Lerma, the number of sisters in this community has climbed to almost 200! And that’s not all. Last Saturday, the “Clarisas” of Lerma officially became a new religious order.

Nearly 200 young nuns processed from their cloister to the cathedral of Burgos on Saturday [February 12, 2011] for the official establishment of their new institute of consecrated life.

Sister Verónica María Berzosa Martínez, formerly the abbess of the group, is now also their founder.

Sister Berzosa, 46, joined the Poor Clares when she was 18. She felt called along with the sisters of her community to establish this new charism, which has now been recognized by the Church as an institute of consecrated life.

Read the entire article on Zenit.org.

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Is the “vocations crisis” over?

Finally, some good news!

For as long as my friends and I can remember, Catholics have used the term “vocations crisis” to refer to the shortage of priests and religious that has plagued the Church for the past several decades. I have often wondered whether awareness of this “crisis” was a recent phenomenon, so I did a bit of research…

It seems that the term “vocations crisis” was being used as early as 1969, right around the time the “crisis” began. I’m not sure how often it was used in the years that followed, but if my Vatican archives keyword search is any indication, it looks like the use of this term exploded around the year 2000. My own experience tells me that for the past ten years or so, it has become somewhat of a buzzword among Catholics.

I got used to talking about the “vocations crisis,” too, until one day my spiritual director told me something that rocked my world: There has never been a crisis of vocations, because God has never stopped calling. What we have mistakenly termed a “vocations crisis” is, and has always been, a crisis of response.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? God would never abandon the Church, His Beloved Bride. He has always called, and continues to call, sufficient laborers for His vineyard. Sadly, many of those He was calling in decades past could not (or would not) hear His voice.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, with each decade that’s passed since the “sexual revolution” of the sixties, our culture has become increasingly hostile to the pursuit of a celibate vocation — and I am not speaking only of the secular culture! Even among Catholics, I have seen an astonishing lack of support from “good Catholic parents” who seem to think their child must be CRAZY to consider living a celibate life… And it seems that this hostility, both inside and outside of the home, has made many young people afraid to even consider a vocation. The result? A crisis of response that has lasted some 30-40 years.

So, what’s the good news?

Young people are answering the call, and LOTS of them!

Last March, I saw this post on Vocation Boom: “Vocations are on the rise, and here are the stats to prove it.” Then I came across an article about the recent CARA Study on vocations to the religious life in the United States, and this one from the National Catholic Register.

But the proof isn’t only in faceless statistics. Last year, I said goodbye to about a dozen friends who were leaving to begin their first year of formation for priesthood or religious life. That’s when numbers like these really began hitting home for me:

Franciscan Friars of the Renewal after their final profession, 2010

Franciscan Friars of the Renewal after their final profession, 2010 (from the CFRs' Picasa album)

  • Franciscan Friars of the Renewal: 9 new postulants in 2009, 7 more in 2010, 6 brothers (above) took final vows last fall. Congratulations, Br. Dismas!
  • Sisters of Life: 8 new postulants last year, ranging in age from 22-25!
  • One young woman from our diocese entered the Missionaries of Charity Sisters in January 2010.
  • Two more entered the local Carmel in October.
  • Another joined Mother Angelica’s Poor Clares (the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration) in Hanceville, AL.
  • The major seminary in my home state welcomed 35 new seminarians last fall — a number they had every right to be happy about!

On a side note, I recently discovered that 5 of the 26 seminarians from my diocese went to the local public high school I attended… which wouldn’t be a big deal, if it weren’t for the fact that we were all there at the same time. This means that my alma mater produced 5 seminarians in 5 years! Plus a Jesuit novice. And (God willing!) a consecrated virgin. Not bad at all for a public high school!

Perhaps those numbers don’t impress you. Perhaps my friends and I are the exception… but I would venture to say that this is probably not the case. Seminaries across the country are welcoming young men in droves, and more than a few religious orders are growing at an almost alarming rate.

Is the “vocations crisis” over? I think things are definitely looking up, and I can say that with confidence and joy. My friends and I are the living proof!

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Vocation stories from the Dominican Sisters of Mary

Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist 2010 Aspirants

Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist 2010 Aspirants (From the Sisters' Web site)

I was browsing the Web site of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, looking for a photo of a friend who entered that order last fall, when I saw that the Sisters have posted the vocation stories of all the aspirants (sisters in their first year of formation) who entered in 2010. What an inspiring group of girls! Just listen to these words from Sr. Hannah’s story:

“I came to understand in a very real way that God loved me more than I had ever comprehended. In realizing that, I recognized my call to a vocation of love. I longed to give my all to live for God, who so willingly gave all of Himself in the desire for my love. My fears and self-doubt have been replaced by peace and the desire to serve Him with all that I am.”

You can read all the girls’ vocation stories on the Sisters’ Web site, www.sistersofmary.org – and when you do, say a prayer for each of them!

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Nashville Dominicans on NPR, Sisters of Mary on Oprah (again!)

A couple of weeks ago, NPR profiled the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, better known as the “Nashville Dominicans.” This vibrant congregation is growing by leaps and bounds, and I’m always glad to see them getting positive attention from the media. Actually, the tone of the article is remarkably positive, which I suppose reflects the shared attitude of those lovely sisters. Take, for example, these wise words from Sister Beatrice Clark:

“The day-to-day is hard. … The day-to-day can be mundane in little stuff. But in the large choices, this [vocation] is the most freeing thing I could have chosen, because everything else would have been trying to find this — this defining relationship that would give value to everything.”

Read (or listen to) the whole story on NPR.org. For more information on the Nashville Dominicans, visit their Web site: http://nashvilledominican.org

And in case you didn’t hear, another flourishing order, the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, recently appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show for the second time. You can watch clips of that episode here and segments of their first appearance (in February 2010) on YouTube. I’ve posted one segment below. (Parts of the video are a little jumbled, but I suppose that can’t be helped.)

For more information on the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, visit their Web site: http://www.sistersofmary.org

God bless you, sisters, for your joyful, courageous witness!

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