Sunday, September 12, 2010
Anecdotal Confirmation of Increase in Priestly Vocations
Michael Barber had a great post below about growing numbers of religious vocations in the Catholic Church in America. I believe I've seen confirming evidence of this trend at the school where I teach, the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Franciscan has always had a strong pre-theologate program, with a fairly steady enrollment of about 50 guys at any given time. (A pre-theologate prepares men to enter a major seminary). Franciscan campus culture is heavily dominated by "households", our alternative to the Greek system. A "household" is a community of students that prays together regularly and supports one another morally, socially, etc. Three "households" on campus are entirely made up of "pre-the's" (pronounced "PRE-thees", i.e. guys in the pre-theologate, i.e. future priests.) One would think, then, that the Franciscan contribution to the priesthood of the Church would be limited to these "pre-thee" households.
I am an advisor of a different household, called the Disciples of the Word, which is not made of guys in the pre-theologate program. So they all are going to be laymen, right? Actually not! In the past three or four years, I've watched several of the Disciples graduate and then enter seminary for a diocese or religious order. Currently, a large number--one of the students estimated more than half--of the household's membership is pondering a priestly vocation.
Of course, many guys will ultimately "discern out," as we say, but in seven years at Franciscan, I have never seen so many young men in my household thinking about the priesthood at the same time and in such a serious way.
The only drawback is, this is going to make it even harder for our Franciscan U girls to find that good Catholic guy they came looking for.