With the heightened media coverage on the Catholic Church over the last couple of weeks we have had many pundits from the main stream media talk about the priest shortage in the United States and they offer their predictable suggestions. They usually frame it in the fact that the Catholic Church is a sacramental church and will die without priests who they see merely as sacramental deliveries systems. We get the normal if only they changed the discipline of priestly celibacy. If only they ordained women to the priesthood. If only they would stop being decisive about abortion, contraception, and homosexuality.
Now I find all of this highly ironic, especially coming from such outlets as the L.A. Times. I find this ironic since almost all of the main stream media is suffering from a readership/viewership crisis. They have embraced the very progressive agenda they want the Catholic Church to adopt and it has resulted in a decrease in the amount of people they can reach. In the broadcast media only Fox News has been on the increase while cable news pioneer CNN has been on a rapid decline. The L.A. Times has been in a free fall with its subscription level. If a very liberal paper can’t gain readers in what is suppose to be an area that is such a bastion of liberals why in the world should anybody care about any advice they offer to the Catholic Church about a vocation shortage. They of course make the case that this has happened because of the broadening of the media market. They would find the argument laughable (and rightly so) if someone said the decline in vocations was because of the number of competing religious entities. If I were to give them advice as to how to increase their reach they would ignore me since I am not part of their organization, yet they have no problems as non-Catholics to give advice as to how the Catholic Church is run.
Many have mentioned the fact that we have never had a vocation crisis, but instead have had a failure of some to recognize their own vocations. This failure is also specifically geographical. CatholicNewsGeek reports about Casoni a very small town in Italy where one out of 80 people become priests. There has been a boom in vocations in places like India and Africa and around the U.S. their are pockets of healthy increases in the number of seminarians. Now going by the MSM playbook they would expect that these increases would be in places that most closely embrace the progressive agenda or have watered-down Catholic teaching to some degree.
|Lincoln||89, 412||38||1 in 2353|
|Arlington||399,326||24||1 in 16638|
|Denver||367,996||83||1 in 4433|
|Los Angeles||4,100,000||63||1 in 65079|
The opposite though is in fact true.
That in diocese noted for their adherence to the magisterium, that they are not only increasing the number of seminarians but in some cases are building new seminaries. Yesterday I asked readers if they knew the number of seminarians in L.A. One reader said he called the diocesan office and the the lady who answered was evasive and would not answer. I had no problem obtaining these numbers for the other diocese who prominently listed these statistics. I found out via a reader that the number of seminarians that were to become priests in the L.A. diocese was 63 with 32 of them being foreign born. Over half of the people enrolled in their seminary are from other dioceses. In 1999 L.A. had 63 people in their seminary so the number has not changed since then. Denver had 63 four years ago and now has increased it to 83.
It would be great if the next time some MSM pundit asked a Catholic about the priest shortage that they in turn asked them about the MSM readership/viewership shortage. In fact we could term it a "Communication Crisis" and say that they need to change their dogmatic teaching about radical feminism, abortion on demand, homosexual acts so that the main stream media could actually identify with the main stream audience. That they are out of touch and need to conform to what the majority of their audience believes.
Four years ago, my faith was very different. Lately, I’ve been learning a considerable amount, so my knowledge is rather limited regarding Denver Archdiocese activities.
However, I would like to point out that I think it was four years ago that Archbishop Chaput started mandating a full course of NFP for engaged couples (and my new involvement here is what renewed my faith). I do not know off hand what other policies Archbishop Chaput started in the meantime, but certainly there were others.
This greater emphasis on Catholic teaching, plus your numbers showing increase of seminarians over the same time period, certainly adds encouragement for more discernment for the religious vocation.
the Lincoln Diocese also has a second seminary, that of the FSSP, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. They teach the Latin Mass according the 1962 missal…Pope Benedict the XVI was instrumental in their creation. They have another 30-40 guys (I believe, my numbers may be off) that will become diocesan priests. I’ve met many of them…they are very squared away, very holy, POD men (as Fr. Sibley would say). So, you can roughly double the number of seminarians in the Lincoln diocese
One interesting statistic I would like to see would be how the vocation situation in the “liberal” denominations? Is there any proof that they are having an easier time of it? I thought I heard on Focus on the Family a while back that the protestants are having a vocation crisis too. (Okay, I know that Dobson is not exactly a liberal stalwart, however, evangelicals do ordain women and married clergy, so their numbers should be higher than ours if not ordaining these people is the problem.)
I don’t know where to access stats for “vocations” in liberal protestant denominations. I have been given the impression, however, that their “numbers” are worse than in the Catholic world in general (certainly far worse than places like Lincoln, Arlington, etc.) When I hear Catholics parroting the MSM on the boom in vocations we would see if only we would ordain married men (I am not even going to mention women’s ordination -it is simply impossible) I usually point out that (liberal) mainline protestant churches with married clergy are experiencing a shortage greater than that in the Catholic Church.
Shortage of vocations indicates a lack of faith. This is a fact plain and simple.
I also put up a post on my blog about Casoni, Italy. One important factor there is that people consider it an honor to have a priest or a nun in the family, so parents in general support religious vocations for their children.
Here, the parents are often part of the problem. One way to foster vocations is to help convince parents that they should actively encourage their children who show an interest in religious life or priesthood. Of course, when a family only has one or two children, that tends to limit the number of vocations.
Just a note: Depends on the evangelical. “Colorado-Springs-type” evangelicals almost always do NOT ordain women; for more “liberal” evangelicals, it would depend on what denomination, if any, they were affiliated with, how broad their interpretation of certain biblical texts was, etc. James Dobson and FOTF are in Colorado Springs, and lots of other evangelical ministries moved there, so that now many Protestants refer to it as “the evangelical Vatican” (seriously!). They almost always ordain married men, because they take NT texts on bishops and deacons, e.g., that a man must be the husband of one wife, to be *prescriptive* instead of *restrictive*. Big difference from the Catholic POV.
Other minor quibble: FSSP priests are ordained for the Fraternity, not for the diocese of Lincoln or any other diocese, and are not diocesan clergy but under the authority of the Fraternity.
Both of these just FYI. I agree, vocations are there, we just have to pray for them, and encourage them. The dumb things we do, as individuals, parishes, dioceses, etc., to deter vocations, could make a list miles long . . .
Just today, a studio exec asked me what I thought of a new show that NBC is very proud of, called “Book of Daniel” — an Episcopalian minister hangs out with Jesus. Of course, the Episcopalian priest has a gay son (“it’s all good”) and counsels a woman to turn off her husband’s life support… I said, “I think it’s fine, if you’re going after those two blue states.”
“Here, the parents are often part of the problem. One way to foster vocations is to help convince parents that they should actively encourage their children who show an interest in religious life or priesthood. Of course, when a family only has one or two children, that tends to limit the number of vocations.”
Exactly. Unfortunately, grandchildren are almost becoming a status symbol as well.
On a related note, I saw where one of the problems here in America is that the Church is growing, which is part of the problem. The numbers I saw showed that since ’85 there are 12 million more Catholics, but the number of priests have stayed the same.
I’m new to your site. It is great, I love the parody, especially the B-16 vitamen.
My thoughts on this extremely important topic:
Besides embracing the magisterial teachings of the Church, it would be interesting to know how many parishes have Adoration. In particular, how many have perpetual Adoration and the frequency in terms of days or weeks. Also importantly is that Adoration is encouraged from the pastors in the particular parishes. My hunch is that there is a direct corralation between the increase of vocations in those parishes and Adoration (perpetual adoration especially). Where our Lord is adored and loved not only during the Sacrafice of the mass, but also outside of mass during Adoration. I bet He increases the vocations where His beloved bride spends time before Him in the Real Presences.
Curt Jester doesn’t mention a couple of the keys to Casoni’s success:
1) It’s already a very Catholic town. Nobody questions vocations in that town.
2) Local seminarians compete to recruit young men to become priests
3) Local pride in priestly vocations
4) The seminary accepts men as young as eleven
5) Kids come to pray in the Church before school they come to school and pray and break into small groups after school
So what is Hartmeister’s prescription to reproduce Casoni?
1) Catholics to act as if they live in a Catholic community. I would strongly suggest that each parish complete a map of the community so people no where others Catholics in the community are. Build ties not only with your neighbors but also your Catholic ones too. Maybe it might be a good idea of occassionally doing some sort of match with with new families so they can bond with the parish.
2) Instead of throwing seminaries just out to do social justice, thrown them seletively into areas where they can make a difference in vocations. Young men need to see that priests are normal young men who have responded to the call of God.
3) I propose a carrot and stick approach to vocations. The families who have the vocations should be the ones who have the honors. That may mean reserving special pews for them. Honoring them during Mass. Putting up the family picture as you go into the Church.
For the stick, I think a system should be set up so that every parish the produces a priest should get a priest (not necessary that same young man) and those that do not don’t necessarily get a priest. That would encourage people to find young men who want to be priests and discourage the kind of discension that discourages priests.
4) Dioceses are going to have to bite the bullet and admit that while the idea of recruiting only young men who are already in college is a losing proposition. Most likely they’re already semi-engaged by the end of college. I really think that dioceses should at ave some sort of system where they send a young men as early as middle school to a pre-seminary school. At least they should do it half way and send them to college to study a theology degree but with Catholic colleges where it is integrated with seminary formation.
5) If we can’t get public schools to bus kids to to religious classes before public school we are going to have to do it ourselves. Also make sure that we get them back afterwards to pray.
When we do something like that we won’t just get to the great ratios like the Lincoln diocese has, we’ll start approaching the numbers that Casoni has.
Wow, I am impressed with all of your posts on the matter of vocations. Hartmeister, I think you’ve struck on quite good points, particularly the middle school age area. It makes my head spin to think of it though considering the deplorable state our elementary Catholic Schools. As the mother of three boys in that category, I must say I have had to reclaim authentic Catholic teaching as they arrive home day after day. From PC anti white male garbage to flat out heresy. I’ve had to defend teachers against angry parents who protested (take a deep breath) a field trip to the March for Life. When people send their children to Catholic school, but then don’t go to church, it sets confusion and anxiety in children who do. Don’t count on too many Catholic school administrators to be particularly helpful in the area of increased priestly vocations. Mostly women, many are of the virulant feminist bent. While the mucking of the stalls seems to be occurring in seminaries, a beginning on a crackdown on supposedly Catholic colleges, I’m hoping a reform will filter down in our high schools and grade schools. This “oppressed” woman has her mop out and is doing some cleaning herself… and I don’t mind feeding priestly vocations in the hearts of my sons either.
Give him a Red hat
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