Concerning the number of vocations to the priesthood.
From Cincinnati.com comes this. There is a lot in this article. Here are a few snips.
More men want to be Catholic priests. Millennials are leading the way.
The Rev. Benedict O’Cinnsealaigh looks out his office window at the courtyard below, marveling at how much his view has changed in just a few weeks.
Once home to green grass and well-manicured shrubs, the courtyard is now a muddy mess. Heavy equipment rumbles throughout the day and temporary fences surround ditches and overturned earth.
O’Cinnsealaigh thinks it’s beautiful. As president of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary at The Athenaeum of Ohio, he knows what this big construction project means for the Catholic Church in Cincinnati.
“We have a future here,” he says.
The $11.5 million building going up behind O’Cinnsealaigh’s office is the first expansion of The Athenaeum’s Mount Washington campus in almost 60 years. The new apartments and conference rooms are necessary because the seminary has a problem no one saw coming: It needs more room.
To say the seminary has struggled for years to attract men to the priesthood would be an understatement. Enrollment plummeted from about 200 in the 1960s to less than 40 in 2011.
Then something changed. Enrollment started to surge in 2012 and has more than doubled in the past five years.
Today, 82 seminarians study here. Their numbers are up nationally, too, though the increase is not as dramatic.
More surprising than the sudden growth is the source of it. Millennials, or those roughly between the ages of 18 and 34, make up the vast majority of new recruits.
I suspect that an informal poll of the seminarians would reveal that the majority of them have either a strong leaning toward tradition or they are open to learning what they can.
If only we knew some folks in Cincinnati who could find out?
The new breed of seminarians has embraced the notion they are taking on a secular world that’s sometimes hostile to their beliefs. They see themselves as part of a counter-culture movement, pushing back against consumerism, greed and other forces, which, in their eyes, make America a less faithful nation.
“They came from that culture. They lived in that culture,” O’Cinnsealaigh says. “They know that culture doesn’t have the answers they were looking for.”
The image of Catholic seminarians as rebels takes some getting used to, considering they’re members of a 2,000-year-old institution with more than 1 billion followers worldwide.
Yet these future priests say society has shifted so much they now are the outsiders, the ones with the radical agenda.
“We’re going to be preaching the Gospel to a culture that’s badly in need of it,” says Jarred Kohn, a 27-year-old from Coldwater, Ohio, who will be ordained this spring. “Trying to beat a culture is going to be difficult, but we can win it back.”
The task is complicated, in part, by a faith that doesn’t align neatly with the political or cultural views of many Americans.
The church opposes gay marriage, abortion, the death penalty and contraception while advocating for immigrants, improved health care and aid to the needy. Try selling that combination in today’s hyper-partisan America.
An NGO or lobby can push those agenda points. We have one true agendum – salvation of souls.
Did God stop calling young men to the priesthood? Archbishop Schnurr says there’s a more earthly explanation. Society told them to ignore the call, he says, and the church didn’t encourage them enough to listen.
It is encouraging them now, Schnurr says.
Since arriving in Cincinnati in 2008, Schnurr has made priest recruitment a priority. He ramped up outreach, hired Schmitmeyer to oversee the effort and got personally involved by hosting meetings and dinners with men considering the seminary.
“You can’t wait for the men to come to you,” Schnurr says. “You have to go to the men.”
Do I hear an “Amen!”? Fr. Z kudos to Archbp. Schnurr.
Now… mix in a strong dose our traditional sacred liturgical worship and watch the numbers explode.
Everyone…. please urge your parish priests to ask the whole congregation, every Sunday and Holy Day, to get down on their knees and pray for vocations. Bring them to this blog, and this link in particular.
We have to get down on our knees constantly and pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Let’s not pray for generic “vocations”, lumping them all together. No.
We need a public, manifest, constant call for vocations to the priesthood from our own homes and families, not someone else’s.
At the parish where I serve, the pastor and I had cards printed with an old prayer for vocations used at my home parish, where there was on average a First Mass every year. From now on, at every Sunday and Holy Day Mass, after the Gospel and before the announcements and sermon, everyone will kneel and say this prayer:
LEADER: Please kneel for our prayer for vocations. Let us ask God to give worthy priests, brothers and sisters to His Holy Church.
ALL: O God, we earnestly beseech Thee to bless this (arch)diocese with many priests, brothers and sisters, who will gladly spend their entire lives to serve Thy Church and to make Thee known and loved.
LEADER: Bless our families. Bless our children.
ALL: Choose from our homes those who are needed for Thy work.
LEADER: Mary, Queen of the Clergy!
ALL: Pray for us. Pray for our priests and religious. Obtain for us many more.
A friend back home – whom I miss rather a lot – sent me one of the original holy cards, which I prize.
Note that key line:
Choose from our homes those who are needed for Thy work.
We had cards made with beautiful artwork on the front and this very prayer on the back.
Soon it will be so much a part of the regular Sunday and Holy Day practice that everyone will know it by heart. It will ring in the ears of young people and keep the idea of a religious vocations constantly present and active.
I don’t doubt the outcome.
This is an ACTION ITEM. Fathers, consider implementing this in your parishes. And don’t junk the prayer up with additions about “married life” or “single life” or “permanent deacons”. Just leave it as it is. We’ve done the heavy lifting by already printing the cards if you want to drop a line.
Lay people! Especially you who are in sound parishes! Go to your priests with this post and ask them to implement a prayer for vocations to the priesthood. Keep at them.