Tag Archives: Vocations crisis

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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World Day of Prayer for Vocations

“The Lord does not fail to call people at every stage of life to share in his mission and to serve the Church in the ordained ministry and in the consecrated life. … Particularly in these times, when the voice of the Lord seems to be drowned out by ‘other voices’ and His invitation to follow Him by the gift of one’s own life may seem too difficult, every Christian community, every member of the Church, needs consciously to feel responsibility for promoting vocations.”

– Pope Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of Prayer for Vocations 2011

Read the rest of the Holy Father’s message on Zenit.org, and pray for vocations!

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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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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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