US 20 year high for vocations to priesthood

The book in question. CLICK

There is a video interview on Wall Street Journal about a new book which explains that vocations to the priesthood are at a 20 year high.

The interviewer is surprised!  She wanted to know if the Church be being more progressive.  Quite the opposite is true.

As a matter of fact, stronger, clearer bishops seem to be able to foster more vocations. Imagine my surprise.

Of course we know this, don’t we!  But it is nice to hear this in the media.

It’s NOT rocket science, friends. Clear, strong, hard Catholic identity inspires that “YES!”

NB: There is a spectacularly annoying ad in the video before the interview starts.


The book in question is Renewal: How a New Generation of Faithful Priests and Bishops Is Revitalizing the Catholic Church by Christopher White.

I added it to my Kindle Wishlst. I mean, I can’t read dystopian TEOTWAWKI stuff all the time!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. “Where the Bishops boldly proclaim the Faith…that’s what they respond to.”

    Yes! This is what we would expect – we are not surprised by it, yet it is surprising to the liberals. Heh.

    Deo Gratias!

  2. jameeka says:

    Agree that it is nice to hear it in the media.

  3. Robbie says:

    On the one hand, vocations had to stop falling at some point. On the other hand, it shouldn’t go unnoticed vocations began to rise during the pontificates of two men who essentially drew the line in the sand on what it means to be Catholic. I think that reaffirmation was very important.

    I haven’t been able to watch the video so I don’t know if this was addressed, but it would be interesting to know how the rise in vocations was broken down. Was it an across the board rise, or did it favor groups that have returned to a more traditional outlook in style and practice?

  4. RosaMystica says:

    And there are more vocations than are being counted. I know of three young men in our TLM community who believe they are called to the priesthood, but within the traditional liturgy only. This excludes the diocesan priesthood, especially since our bishop is unfriendly to the Extraordinary Form. And they don’t have the finances for the Fraternity or the Institute. Many in our small (and far from wealthy) community are already supporting one seminarian in the Institute, and these men don’t want to take away from his support by trying to raise support locally. So they are just waiting. That’s four men in our deanery with vocations to the traditional mass. I know of three men in the diocesan seminary from our deanery, so if there were somehow a route for traditional men locally, with diocesan support, that number might be doubled.

  5. benedetta says:

    Ah, it’s the Benedict Effect!

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  6. everett says:

    In regards to the ad, I use Ad-Block Plus and Noscript for Firefox, and I don’t see any ads (and pretty much never see ads).

  7. McCall1981 says:

    Yes, but will the Francis effect undercut the Benedict effect?

  8. benedetta says:

    McCall1981, No. Why would it?

  9. Uxixu says:

    Deo Gratias.

    I think in macrocosm for the shortage is really the elimination of the Minor Orders and more to blame than any other one factor (though there are others). The goal in every parish should be older boys ordained as Ostiarius, and young men ordained as Acolytes bearing the candles replacing the lay “alter servers.” These would serve as examples for young boys. Most would probably move on to others but I would suspect at least a few from each parish would begin to consider the diaconate and/or priesthood.

    Given the hostility of the atheistic secular world, it might be time for the exorcists, if not the catechumenate to return, as well.

  10. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    I looked inside the book on There is a chapter on better seminaries. High time! — and a major factor for the increase in vocations. I know of one seminary 30 years ago which wasn’t exactly the Heretic Hilton in academic instruction, but in everything else it was The Pink Palace.

  11. McCall1981 says:

    @ benedetta,
    I would think that the Francis effect means a return towards the kinds of things that caused the vocation shortage in the first place (like “soft-identity” Catholicism). If so, it would undercut the positive gains made under Benedict.
    Hope I’m wrong though.

  12. Reason #12 for Summorum Pontificum…

  13. ocleirbj says:

    @McCall1981, White noted that in a recent trip to Rome, he found that all the seminarians were excited and inspired by Pope Francis. If part of the “Francis Effect” is that these young future priests, who are probably “hard-identity” Catholics influenced by Benedict, are filled with even more energy and enthusiasm for their vocation, then this has to be a good thing for the Church.

  14. frjim4321 says:

    “Agree that it is nice to hear it in the media.” Although in this case “media” refers to the WSJ which doesn’t have quite the credibility it had prior to it’s present ownership.

    I’m glad that the quantity of vocations to the priesthood is increasing, so long as the quality is there.

    The “researcher” is from a fairly unknown organization. Has this be studied by a reputable organization such as CARA? The group represented here seems like one of those very small, ideologically driven “think tanks” with a deceiving big, fancy name.

    [HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! I guess you didn’t like the news!]

  15. Tim Ferguson says:

    Right when I go back into the seminary. I can never figure out if I’m leading the trend, following the trend, or being countercultural.

    I guess I’ll just have to keep trying to follow the Lord!

    Fr. Jim, if my classmates here are any gauge of quality, they’ve got it! – faithful, prayerful, men of Christ, true inspirations to spend time with, solid men, unashamed of professing even the difficult parts of the Church’s teaching, evangelical, rooted in tradition, eager to pour their lives out in sacrifice. It’s an honor to be in classes with them and pray with them each day.

  16. momoften says:

    It was a nice interview, until the interviewer tried to tie the increase vocations to Francis. Unfortunately, Christopher White didn’t really answer that directly. He just mentioned visiting
    a seminary in Rome where the seminarians are abuzz over Francis, and I wonder if it left the
    viewer thinking that Francis is the reason of the increases. He should have made it quite clear that
    not only are a lot of the vocations are coming out of “traditional” parishes, but are also the
    product of the very “traditional” Benedict papacy.

  17. LadyMarchmain says:

    Momoften, you have voiced my feelings exactly. The shots of Pope Francis shown during the conversation also conveyed the message that this is due to his papacy. There was a documented increase in priestly vocations under our Emeritus Pope, and I, for one, would like to see the numbers since Francis began his pontificate. It’s the younger priests in my area who are all on fire for the TLM.

  18. anna 6 says:

    I do hope that Pope Francis is having a positive effect on healthy vocations, but like others here, it was unfortunate that they didn’t acknowledge the Benedict effect. It’s not like the priesthood only just occurred to the current seminarians in March of this year.

    It would be wonderful if we could attract more men who have the intellect, humility, appreciation for beauty and liturgy and the selflessness of Benedict, and the passion, charm and popularity of Francis.

  19. Charivari Rob says:

    “I haven’t been able to watch the video so I don’t know if this was addressed, but it would be interesting to know how the rise in vocations was broken down. Was it an across the board rise, or did it favor groups that have returned to a more traditional outlook in style and practice?”

    The video doesn’t go into that.

    It might be interesting to see what, if anything, the book points to. The one particular report (on vocations) that I’ve seen indicated that over the past four or five decades (from the bumper crop years to the lean years to the recent increases), the rate of vocations has actually changed very little when correlated with one factor – weekly Mass attendance.

    I might keep my eyes open for any extracts from or reviews of this book. I’ve found that it’s hard (and not very wise) to form an opinion on these books when someone (even, or perhaps particularly, someone directly involved in the book) is talking about them or the larger topic and perhaps trying to highlight or condense, something gets said that’s off-topic or out of context, or something critical gets left out… It usually does them no good, and that’s a shame. It’s bad enough even with an hour to speak one’s mind – it can be terrible when you’re dealing with an interviewer (even a supportive one) who is breaking things down to soundbites.

    I once attended a speech by one fairly well-known Catholic speaker/writer who spoke at length on a topic on which he was certainly well-informed and he unfortunately came across (to me) as an idiot because he completely glossed over a critical part of the story. I ended up buying the book (trusting others’ assessment of him being a worthwhile read) and found to my relief that the missing part of the story was addressed more thoroughly in the book.

    I recently heard a radio interview with some Catholic authors promoting their new book – completely turned me off to bothering with them when they made some seemingly bland & broad assertion, presented as fact that was flatly contradicted by my own direct experience. I was talked back in off my indignant little ledge of self-righteousness by a priest acquaintance who had actually read the book and was able to tell me that they were better than that – that they have a good sense of their context, especially as the starting point to whatever the particular topic was. It’s on my to-read list.

    This young man and his book? I’ll wait and see. For example – I wonder at (and disagree with) the remark he made (in the video) that the sexual abuse crisis peaked in 2000. I don’t know why he would say that and I don’t even know if it’s actually relevant to the real topic. It does mean that I need to be mindful of the difference between healthy skepticism and being hyper-nitpicky.

  20. JonPatrick says:

    I think this focus on the “Francis Effect” is typical of how the Media looks at things but doesn’t necessarily reflect the reality of what is going on in the Church. While it is true that there are times when a strong Pope can change the direction of the Church, for example JP2 coming in and stopping the free-fall of the Church and starting to move us back toward orthodoxy, I think what we are seeing now is more of a grass roots bottom up movement returning us to hard identity Catholicism, which is happening in spite of the indifference or in some cases hostility of the hierarchy. You have groups of the laity organizing for the Extraordinary Form, home schooling, families bringing back more traditional family piety (all of these probably contribute to the rise in vocations), bloggers (such as this one), new media such as Church Militant.TV and LifeSite News, authentically Catholic colleges, and so on.

    I believe this is happening and will continue to happen no matter who occupies the Chair of Peter.

  21. pjthom81 says:

    And in related news, there are more diocesan priests worldwide than in 1970 (1st year of the Novus Ordo) and the total number of priests is only slightly under.

    For those who fear that the Papacy of Francis might mark a return to the days of the swoon of the Church under Paul VI, let me attempt to comfort. The Church has changed….if only in a survival of the devout way. Those who are Catholics and are still active have not had the same societal pressures supporting the Church that those Catholics who grew up in the late 40’s to the late 60’s had. Instead, these Catholics have had to fight the cultural Zeitgeist at every turn. Consequently those who become Priests (certainly the ones I know personally) are far more orthodox than the prior generation and this reflects in their leadership. Those who are entering the seminary are less likely to be swayed by what is trendy and are more inclined to think that society as a whole got on the wrong track over the past 40 years. Benedict provided a way to turn around to address these errors while showing a way to a more positive future. The Benedict effect will long outlast the pontificate of Benedict.

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