A new book was issued in December which sheds light on the priestly vocation crisis and what is drawing young men to the priesthood today. Entitled: Renewal: How a New Generation of Faithful Priests and Bishops Is Revitalizing the Catholic Church (Encounter Books, 2013) it studies the reasons behind the past decline and the current rise in vocations.
The authors Anne Hendershott and Christopher White say that the more parishes and dioceses and religious organizations compromise “with society and the world, blurring its identity and modifying its teachings and ethics, the more it will decline.”
Ms. Hendershott said that “good and holy priests provide wonderful role models for young men who might someday consider joining the priesthood. Conversely, in some parishes—run by progressive pastoral administrators—young men are less likely to answer the call to a priesthood that has been so diminished that the priest is a visiting ‘sacramental minister’ who arrives in time to consecrate the Eucharist and play a subservient role to the female ‘pastoral administrator.’”
Equally disturbing is the role or lack thereof that Catholic Colleges play in the nurturing of vocations. Says Ms. Hendershott: “There was a time when Catholic higher education saw it as their role to nurture priestly vocations. Now, most Catholic colleges and universities seem to do what they can to inhibit them.” However orthodox schools like Franciscan University, Ave Maria, and Christendom College have bountiful vocations. At Franciscan University, the Blessed Junipero Serra Fund provides spiritual and financial support to the 50 or 60 or so young men who are discerning a vocation to the priesthood.
Mr White says that “successful dioceses are led by bishops who are unafraid to be countercultural through their defense of the dignity of all human life, their support of traditional marriage, their efforts to protect and promote religious liberty, their willingness to live faithful and celibate lives.” Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley of Boston was advised to close the seminary when he arrived 10 years ago. “Now,” says Ms. Hendershott, “there are 70 men in Boston studying to be priests, and the seminary has had to turn away candidates for lack of space.”
Both authors are optimistic about the future. Young men and women are being trained to pass on the Faith in its fullness by orthodox colleges, FOCUS, etc. “A Church that continues down this road,” says Mr. West, “will find both its pews and altars full and will be attractive to the world around it!”
For more information, read the entire article in the Catholic World Report or order the book!