If you're a regular reader of The Catholic Spirit, you've likely noticed we've been publishing Coadjutor Archbishop John Nienstedt's weekly calendar along with his regular column, "In God's Good Time." And you also may have noticed that his calendar features a good number of Masses at schools around the archdiocese.
Well, as he told the Spirit recently, there is method to this madness. Soon after being appointed to the archdiocese, Archbishop Nienstedt wrote to all of the local Catholic high schools, asking them if he could visit and offer an all-school Mass.
He thought it would be a good chance to get around the archdiocese in a way parish visits wouldn't allow. He said he also appreciates the mission of our Catholic schools and wants to encourage families who send their children to them. And, he added, it's also a good time to pitch vocations - something he's passionate about - to young men and women.
"At the end of each school Mass, I give a plug for vocations," he said. "I tell them that this year I'm putting together a new team, and I need some quarterbacks, I need some fullbacks, I need some blockers. And would they think this year about what God might be calling them to, and would they consider being part of my team that I'm putting together." Catholic Spirit
Last spring when Father Bill Baer, Rector of the St John Vianney College Seminary at the University of St Thomas spoke about vocations. And while SJV with 154 seminarians this Fall (there only 70 in 2001) is doing well, they are not getting their men from the Catholic high schools where you might expect.The Archdiocese has 13 Catholic high schools with about 9,000 students. Father Baer said that about one-half of one percent of those students enter the seminary. He added that If the Catholic Church were in the business of training doctors, lawyers, engineers, or even architects, and only one half of one percent of their students would decide to pursue degrees in those subjects, everybody would agree that the schools were failures (he didn't use that word). He used the word "outrageous."
Most of his students in the seminaries are coming from public high schools and universities.
Father thinks those kind of results are "unacceptable" and that we can do better.
The Diocese of Duluth has become one of the must successful in the U.S. in terms of its vocations. And the thanks are due to Bishop Dennis Schnurr and his crack Vocations Team. I'm predicting the Archbishop Nienstedt will form his own crack Vocations Team when he assumes command next May. He's getting ready now.