An email I received today from Catholic League entitled, “Chaput Effect Explains Spike in Seminarians” captured my interest. The author noted that when Archbishop Chaput was in Denver, there was a notable increase in seminarians. Now that the Archbishop is in Philadelphia, the number there has risen as well. I wonder why that might be so.
For years the number of seminarians in our own Archdiocese of New Orleans waned, but it has increased in recent years to a wonderful 126 currently studying for the priesthood!
I did some internet research and found this information from “The National Catholic Register’s” site:
The top dioceses with the most anticipated ordinands to the priesthood in 2015 were:
Archdiocese of Chicago 14
Diocese of Paterson, N.J. 14
Archdiocese of Newark, N.J. 12
Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y. 11
Archdiocese of New York 10
Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo. 9
Diocese of Arlington, Va. 8
Diocese of Lincoln, Neb. 8
Archdiocese of Los Angeles 8
Archdiocese of Portland, Ore. 8
Diocese of Santa Fe, N.M. 8
Archdiocese of Washington 8
Diocese of Worcester, Mass. 8
According to the Website for the Archdiocese of Nashville, there were approximately 595 men ordained in 2015 across the United States – that is a reported increase of about 25% from the previous year.
It is so encouraging to see the number of ordinations increasing, especially when being a priest seems more difficult than ever. There was the ugly sex-abuse scandal whose pall still lingers. Our priests are spread so thin with many parish duties – well over and above ministry and administration of the sacraments. Our culture as a whole does not look favorably on the selflessness and celibacy required of priests. Humanism, agnosticism, relativism and a bunch of other “isms” have taken a strangling hold on our youth – and even some old folks who should know better. Often even “good Catholic” moms and dads will discourage a son from a vocation to the priesthood, because they fear for his reputation and even his life.
Our priests deserve and need our prayerful support. Remember that it is from their hands that we receive Jesus. We must never take this for granted. Many work tirelessly and selflessly for those entrusted to their care. Let us pray that they may be strengthened during these most difficult of times by God’s grace to remain faithful to their call and to shepherd God’s people.
I’ve heard it said that parishes that have perpetual adoration chapels produce more vocations than those without them. I couldn’t find any statistics to support this, however in an article in the St. Louis Review, Msgr. Michael Butler said, “They go hand in hand, really, vocations and Eucharistic adoration.”
It makes sense to me. Sadly missing from our noisy, fast-paced lives is SILENCE. Everyone is walking around with their phone in their ears. When we don’t have our phones in our ears, the text, email notifications and social media updates are constantly chiming. I know people who are a nervous wreck when they are separated from their phones for more than a few minutes. This is not an optimal climate for discernment of any kind!
I think that there are a few things needed to increase vocations within a parish or diocese. First and foremost is the joyful example of a priest in love with the Lord. When these priests make it a priority to interact with the youth of the parish, the children can see that a priestly vocation can be very fulfilling – and cool! The priests become persons the youth want to emulate, and the seed is planted.
Parishes and schools need to make it a practice to pray daily for vocations. Children need to know that we as a Church are praying that they will hear God’s voice in their hearts and answer that call – whatever that may be, and that we support them if they hear the call to be a religious – without reservation!
Finally, parishes should be practicing Eucharistic adoration for vocations. If a 24 hour adoration chapel is a possibility, resources should be allocated to make it happen. Chapels provide the silence we crave – the silence needed to cultivate a deeper relationship with Christ – and possibly a religious vocation. In parishes where this is not possible, regular hours of exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and adoration should be scheduled and participation encouraged.
I have great hope for the Church of the future. I teach teens who are still very interested in learning about their faith despite all of the junk that enters their senses through technology and the media. Perhaps it is because of all of this trash that they are seeking Truth even more fervently than ever.
If the newly ordained priests in the Archdiocese of New Orleans these past few years are any indication of where we are headed as a Church, I’d say that the future is looking bright! God has raised up courageous, holy men to help His people weather the difficult times ahead. Thank you, Fathers, for answering the call!
PLEASE Pray for our priests & pray for vocations!
Here’s a link to a wonderful website for priestly vocations in the Archdiocese of New Orleans.