Friday, April 04, 2008

"Are we going to have enough priests?"

Eucharistic Adoration tonight, 7-8 pm, SAA Church. All who wish to adore Jesus in the Eucharist are invited!!
Recently, Maryann posted the following comment regarding the priesthood in the modern world. She also references a book on the same topic which has had excellent reviews by Catholic theologians. Another blogger sent me a link to the book reviews; to view them, please click on the title of this post.

While we wait patiently and somberly for the rising of our Lord Jesus Christ, I can’t help but think of those that dedicate their lives to spread His good news, and absolve us of our sins, our priests. Isn’t it a shame they and others, called to give their lives to God, are decreasing in numbers, both worldwide and in the US while the population in both continues to increase. With an increase in our population, it follows that we should expect an increase in the number of sins committed. With this current trend, are we going to have enough priests to provide absolution so that our sins are forgiven? Perhaps increasing our knowledge of the priesthood will help us share its beauty as a calling, a calling that is for “real men,” as Fr. David Toups points out in an interview; Priestly Identity: Crisis and Renewal, part 1 (by Annamarie Adkins,, 3/20/08.)

In her opening sentence, Ms. Adkins quotes Fr. Toups; “A general crisis of authentic masculinity in society has also affected the priesthood as only "real men" can adequately fulfill the role of priest and pastor.”

Q: Is there a crisis of authentic masculinity in the priesthood? Could this be a source of the vocation shortage, especially among Latinos?

Father Toups: Allow me to rephrase the first question to be more all embracing: Is there a crisis of authentic masculinity in the world? I would say yes.

There is a crisis of commitment, fidelity and fatherhood all rooted in men not living up to their call to be “real men” -- men who model their lives on Christ, who lay down their lives out of love, and who learn what it is to be a father from our Father in heaven.

So in the context of the priesthood, which flows out of society, there is a particular challenge to help men grow in manly virtue. The priesthood is not for the faint of heart, but for men who are up to the challenge of living as Christ in laying down their life on a daily basis.

As the priest says the words of consecration, “This is my Body,” Christ is not only speaking through him, but the priest is offering his own life as well for the people to whom he is called to serve.

Part 2, posted March 21st, discusses the challenges of the priesthood and six principles of priestly renewal.

Father Toups, the associate director of the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations of the U.S. episcopal conference, is the author of "Reclaiming Our Priestly Character."


At 6:39 PM, Blogger fran said...

I came across these, just a few days ago:

The Priesthood - A Most Precious Gift

The something transcendent: through baptism he brings souls to birth, through the sacrament of penance he purifies them, through communion he gives them our Lord's body as He himself did at the Last Supper, and at their deaths he helps them to appear before the Beloved by giving them ...their final forgiveness and their supreme strength...Every single day of his life, he does what Jesus did during his three years of ministry - he teaches men to know, love and serve their good Master. What a vocation!

Charles de Foucald: from a leter to a young friend preparing for ordination, 1897

Prayer for Vocations

Most High Glorious God from whom all good comes. By the power of the Holy Spirit, call more workers into your harvest to follow in the footprints of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, after the example of St. Francis of Assisi according to the Capuchin way of life. Give them the strength to be generous with the fit of themselves. May they see chastity as love, poverty as freedom and obedience as victory, with an apostle's heart to serve you and your people all the days of their life. Amen

At 11:21 PM, Anonymous Maryann said...

Being a woman,I'm surprised it took me so long to think of us,the other half that keeps the world in balance. “Are we going to have enough nuns?” MSNBC’s Terry Wynn reported on the shortage of nuns shortly after Pope John Paul II’s death in 2005. The article questioned the new Pope’s ability to curtail the decline in the sisterhood. Terry Wynn stated, “The new Pope must address huge challenges as he takes over at the helm of an institution with 1 billion members. He must consider the growth of Islam, the relationship with other Christian denominations, the fall in priestly vocations, and charges of sexual abuse by clergy across the world.” ( I suspect all three issues will be addressed by the pope during his visit to the United States.
Kenneth Jones' Index of Leading Catholic Indicators has some alarming statistics: In 1965, society enjoyed 180,000 sisters as the backbone of the education and health Systems, while in 2002, there were 75,000 sisters, a decrease of more than 50%. If the decrease in numbers is not a reason for concern, the average age of 68 should be. The index predicts that the year 2020 will be enjoying only 40,000 sisters, with only 21,000 of those under the age of 70 ( I personally find this bothersome.
Some reasons for the decrease in numbers may be:

- Lack of visibility – nuns are now rarely seen in education and health care institutions, both of which provided wonderful advertising for the calling. The decreased visibility and exposure to nuns presents a challenge, especially to our youth. I suspect some children go through their entire adolescent life without getting to know a nun.

- Vatican II’s changes - women now have more opportunities to become involved in the social and ministerial aspects of the church. I would suspect the cost of giving up the opportunity of a family becomes too large.

- Society’s expectations vs. Religion’s expectations – is it women that see the sisterhood as having unrealistic expectations or is it the church that has unrealistic expectations of nuns? (This same question holds true for the shortage of priests.) I would suspect this question will also be with us for a while.
These are but a few of the interesting thoughts on the decreasing number of nuns, a complicated problem that parallels our shortage of priests.

At 1:45 PM, Blogger Daisy said...

I feel that joining a Secular Franciscan Order seems to be a more favorable option for those people who want to be married and be part of a religious order at the same time.

Here is more information about the Secular Franciscan Order


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