It is interesting to compare dioceses for the numbers of their vocations to the priesthood. Some swanky and tony dioceses have few. Some fly-over dioceses have many. What are they doing differently? Which are the differentiating factors? Is it something in the water? Is it something in the air? Are some dioceses just lucky?
I don’t think so.
I read something depressing at Rorate about the state of vocations to the priesthood in Ireland.
The website of the Irish Bishops’ Catholic Conference says that there are 12 – twelve – men to start their studies for the priesthood at Saint Patrick’s College Maynooth, the National Seminary for Ireland.
There are 26 dioceses in Ireland. The starting number is nearly never the final number because of attrition.
But, gosh, what young man’s eye wouldn’t be caught by this image, used by the Diocese of Derry (I’m not making this up):
We are in a race, a kind of war of attrition.
Will we as a Church revitalize our Catholic identity before our ranks are devastated to the point that we will lose even what we have left?
The Lord promised that Hell would not in the end prevail against the Church.
He did not promise that Hell would not prevail in Ireland.
Or the United States.
Or your diocese or town.
Think of the mighty ancient Churches of North Africa.
The lesson of Ireland should remind us to be grateful for God’s gifts where we are.
We should also be reminded that our Church is guided by grace and by elbow grease.
We need a “Marshall Plan” to rebuild our Catholic identity. Our liturgical worship of God is at the core of any plan to rebuild any aspect of our Church.