For the 2006 Fall Semester, there are an estimated 1,300 College Seminarians in the United States. These are the Seminarians in their first four years of college.
The St John Vianney Seminary at St Thomas University in St Paul, with 142 Seminarians enrolled, represents over 10% of all the enrollments in the U.S. Since 1971, there have been 328 SJV alumni ordained as Priests. Two have been ordained as Bishops, Bishop Blaise Cupich now in Rapid City, SD, and Bishop Alexander Sample, in Marquette, MI.
As an indication of the quality of the education received at the SJV Seminary and St Thomas University, two-thirds of the Seminarians studying and discerning there are preparing for ordination in other Dioceses in Minnesota or in other states.
Forty percent of all the Priests ordained for the St Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese since 1971 are alumni of the St John Vianney Seminary. Currently, the Archdiocese, with an estimated Catholic population of about 800,000, has more college Seminarians than the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, with a population of over 4,000,000. Thank the Lord, the Midwest/Great Plains area of the country, while still short of priests in many areas, does not have the vocation shortage problems that are much more severe on the East and West Coasts.
Even here though, and throughout the country there is a severe Vocations crisis. The average age of Priests, Brothers and Sisters is near or exceeding the normal retirement age. Few Catholic schools have teaching Brothers or Nuns as was common in the past. There are many reasons for this.
But a lack of prayer by Catholics is one major reason. With God, all things are possible. For those of you who have been praying for Vocations, thank you. For those of you who have not been praying for Vocations, what is stopping you?
O Holy Spirit, Spirit of wisdom and divine love, impart Your knowledge, understanding, and counsel to youth that they may know the vocation wherein they can best serve God. Give them courage and strength to follow God's holy will. Guide their uncertain steps, strengthen their resolutions, shield their chastity, fashion their minds, conquer their hearts, and lead them to the vineyards where they will labor in God's holy service. Amen.
Coincidentally, the New York Times has an article today on Seminarians at one of their Seminaries:
Joining a Fraternity of Faith, Dwindling but Resolute
When Emmanuel Ko broke the news to his girlfriend that he had decided to become a priest, he clutched a rosary in his right pocket for resolve as she wept. “It’s not like I didn’t like her anymore,” he said. “I’m doing this because I love him more.”
Mr. Ko, 22, is one of four young men from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn who decided to take the first step toward priesthood this fall, enrolling at the Cathedral Seminary Residence of the Immaculate Conception in Douglaston, Queens.
Decisions like his are increasingly rare, especially now that the priesthood, hit with a series of sex scandals, has become suspect in many people’s eyes. There were fewer than 1,300 college-level seminarians in the country last year, down from more than 13,000 three decades ago, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.
The seminary in Douglaston, which serves both the Brooklyn and Rockville Centre dioceses, was once a bustling place, a fully functioning college with faculty and several hundred students.
Today, just 25 seminarians live there. They occupy a handful of pews in the school’s cavernous chapel. The men take most of their classes now at nearby St. John’s University, returning to the seminary campus for the other aspects of spiritual and character development that make up the continuing process known in the Catholic Church as “discernment.” [...snip] NYTimes