April 26 is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. It comes on the heels of a report that shows a significant increase in priestly ordinations.
Holy Cross Father Patrick Peyton, the famous Rosary Priest, used as his axiom, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” The truth and wisdom of this adage is borne out by the dramatic increase in the number of priests to be ordained in the United States this year.
According to a Center for Applied Research on the Apostolate (CARA) report on the ordination class of 2015, the number of ordinations will increase almost 25 percent this year compared to 2014. The report reveals that 595 new priests will be ordained in the U.S. this year as compared to 477 last year, an increase of 24.7 percent.
CARA’s survey of the ordinands indicates that most of the men were about 17 when they first considered a priestly vocation. But, more than half (60%) completed college before entering the seminary, of which 15 percent had completed a graduate degree. Over one quarter of the ordinands had student loan debts averaging $22,500 when they entered the seminary. Their average age is 34.
More than half (51%) attended a Catholic elementary school. They were also more likely to have attended a Catholic High school and 45 percent of those who attended college, attended a Catholic institution.
Most have been Catholic since infancy but 7 percent are converts to the Faith. Eighty-four percent of their parents were both Catholic and more than one-third (37%) have a relative who is a priest.
Eight in ten (78 percent) had been altar servers and more than half (51%) had served as a lector. The vast majority (71%) were encouraged by their parish priest, close to half by friends (46%) and parishioners (45%) and by their mothers (40%).
While these figures are hopeful, they fall far short of meeting the need for priests in our country.
It was the Lord who told us: “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”(Matt 9:37)
Your parish community should pray together for vocations when you are gathered together for, “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13)
It is more important than ever to recognize that each of us must pray for vocations. And, we must also personally encourage young people we know, especially members of our families, to consider the priesthood or a religious life of consecrated service to Christ in His Church.