The main headline on AOL today was the news that a Catholic priest announced to his parish that he was leaving the priesthood because he had just become the father of a child. The article included comments from some parishioners who expressed the hope that the Church would once again evaluate the stance against a married priesthood. There is no mention of the fact that this priest was ordained with full knowledge that celibacy was a promise he made and was expected to keep. It is sad that people do not keep their commitments/promises and hurt others around them. (See US divorce rate)
This is why it is all the more encouraging that Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) announced that the number of men enrolled in diocesan seminaries is up 16% since 1995 and 10% since 2005. There are currently 3694 graduate-level seminarians. The factors cited in this increase include the appeal of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, the feeling that the worst of the sex abuse crisis is behind us, and encouragement from parishes and bishops.
Rev. Mark Latcovich, president and rector of St. Mary Seminary in Wickliffe, Ohio, said that they have the largest class in decades (72). He says that current seminarians and priests are “our best recruiters. If they are happy and witnessing their faith and opening their hearts, that enthusiasm and joy is contagious.” (See the complete story in the Washington Post.)
In my own parish, we have had three vocations to the priesthood in the past 10 or so years. The seminary next door, Saint Mary of the Lake, has seen a large increase in enrollment.
For those discerning a vocation, Father Basil Cole, OP, lists the 9 signs that you have a vocation (summarized briefly) : God-centered, joy in serving others, holy hatred for sin, holy dissatisfaction with oneself, humility, fidelity to prayer, loving truth, undivided heart, love of the Church.
May the Church around the world be blessed with holy and persevering vocations!