There is a nice article in the Catholic Key, the diocesan newspaper of Kansas City, about the quickly growing number of men in the seminary, the direct result of a concerted effort.
In recent years, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has poured considerable financial, human and spiritual resources into efforts to encourage priestly vocations. And it hasn’t been money down the drain.
In the 2003/2004 seminary school year, the diocese had nine seminarians. For 2007/2008, already 24 men are studying for the diocesan priesthood and there are good indications another three will join that number in January, according to Keith Jiron, director of the Office of Vocations.
What kind of men are hearing the call these days? It is an interesting question. Yesterday, I was listening to the Vatican Insider radio show with Joan Lewis. Her guest was the newly appointed Archbishop of Baltimore, Edwin O’Brien. Archbishop O’Brien served as Rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome from 1990-1994. Joan Lewis asked him about what type of seminarians he is seeing these days. He gave a diplomatic, but telling answer. He said (paraphrasing) “The seminarians today love the church and they don’t have issues on liturgy and doctrine the way we saw some fifteen or more years ago.” Very telling. This is an orthodox group who entering the seminary to be part of something bigger than themselves. Not trying to tear it down.
Keith Jiron, director of the Office of Vocations for Kansas City, echoes that sentiment.
“Young guys are ready to step up sooner,” Jiron said, “They’re a different breed. They’re the JPII generation.” In an increasingly relativistic and secular culture, young men inspired by the likes of Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa are “wanting to do something great. Wanting to do something better than their role models in society are showing,” Jiron said.
Archbishop O’Brien also noted the younger age of seminarians. He said he is seeing many more first vocations in the late twenties as opposed to second vocations in the late thirties. Good news all around.
One other note. Archbishop O’Brien also said that many more seminarians are coming from the Midwest and not from the major eastern urban areas as had once been the case. He said that people in the heartland have bigger families and bigger families are much more conducive to vocations. He said he has seen parents of seminarians actively oppose their sons vocation to the priesthood because he is the only son and they want grandchildren. Bigger families are where vocations come from.
Orthodox young men from big families. Truly a different breed.
Ht to Mary’s Aggies on the Kansas City Article.