Seminarian numbers show an increase
YODER — “Vocations are everybody’s business” is the slogan used by the Knights of Columbus, and Msgr. Bernard Galic, the director of the Vocation Office and pastor of St. Aloysius Church, Yoder, said that slogan “hits the nail on the head.”
“If everybody was living the faith, and if everybody was teaching the faith, then everybody would be comfortable in recommending people who show the signs of one who would be a good priest that he consider it,” Msgr. Galic told Today’s Catholic. “If people would do that it may help plant the seeds of vocations.”
In a sense, those seeds are sprouting. The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend is seeing an increase in the number of seminarians and an increase in the numbers of men inquiring about the priesthood. That follows a national trend as seminaries are seeing the largest numbers of men studying for the priesthood since the 1970s and 1980s.
“That includes two of the (seminaries) where our men are studying,” Msgr. Galic said. “The Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, and Mount Saint Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Md., both of them have the largest enrollments they have had in 20 years.”
Currently there are men studying in five seminaries: Pontifical College Josephinum, Mount Saint Mary’s, Immaculate Heart of Mary in Winona, Minn., Seminario Hispano de Santa Maria de Guadalupe in Mexico City and the North American College in Rome.
The local numbers have grown. Msgr. Galic said, “Last year there were nine new men that began seminary studies. This year there are eight new men. Right now I have seven sets of application papers out and it’s still relatively early.”
The newest applicants tend to be college-age or college graduates. Msgr. Galic noted that last year, the largest numbers were younger men coming out of high school or just beginning college.
Although Msgr. Galic has some doubts that the Church will see the numbers of priests that it saw after World War II, “… I do think we are going to see seminarian numbers continue to grow,” he said.
“And that’s partly because young parents today are taking a more serious interest in the Church and are raising their kids with spiritual values,” he said. “Those kids are more likely to hear and respond to a call in Church ministry.”
Msgr. Galic also credits this increase in seminarians from the Blessed Pope John Paul II generation — young men who were profoundly influenced by the pope’s ministry.
“I think a lot of young people’s (men of college age) love for the Church grew out of their experience of him,” he said. “They just had a great love for that man and his charism.”
Msgr. Galic told Today’s Catholic that qualities that make a good priest include a welcoming personality, someone who deals easily with young and older people. Other qualities include someone who typifies a healthy young man — interest in sports and outdoor activities. Another quality would be an interest in the faith, someone who regularly attends Mass, is involved with parish activities — a reader, choir member, a leader of the youth group.
Msgr. Galic said that when one of the faithful notices these qualities in a man, they may want to suggest to that person: “You know, did you ever think about being a priest?” or “You would make a good priest.”
“Sometimes, that’s what gets people thinking,” Msgr. Galic said.
However, many seminarians have stated that they first gave the priesthood serious thought when a priest asked, “Have you ever thought about being a priest?”
Msgr. Galic noted, “God would not have given us a sacramental Church if He didn’t intend to provide us with priests to administer the sacraments, especially the Eucharist.”
He said, “I don’t believe there is a shortage of call, a shortage of vocations. I think there is a critical failure of those who are being called to respond positively to the call.”
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