“We’ve seen a steady increase to
the diocesan priesthood in the
This academic year, the college accepted 46 candidates to the priesthood. The number compares with 38 candidates during 2003, 44 in 2004 and 43 last year.
However, the seminary has not yet matched the total of 51 new seminarians admitted in 2002. Some believe the drop in 2003 was a direct consequence of the sexual abuse scandal that broke out the preceding year.
The college, founded by Pope Pius IX in 1859, has a total of about 170 seminarians.
A similar story can be found at
Like the North American College,
“We like to think we’re emerging from a difficult and dark time,” Msgr. Bergin said. “There’s light on the horizon.”
For each of the past three
academic years, the
“The numbers are picking up and
the word on the ground in the
a former vocations director, stressed that the actual numbers of candidates in
the English-speaking colleges in
A number of reasons are given for the upturn, but the most significant are believed to be stronger bishops and the papal transition last year.
Father Gill said that many of the
Father Gill also pointed out that many of the new seminarians come from small dioceses rather than large, metropolitan ones.
The change of popes has also played a significant role.
“I’m sure the death of Pope John Paul II has been a contributing factor,” said Msgr. Bergin. “It was extraordinarily positive advertising that the Church received in the media and was reflected soon afterwards by the numbers of people coming to Rome — it was essentially six weeks of free advertising that put Rome on the agenda.”
Father Headon agreed.
“As a result of the conclave, the media focused on the Catholic Church and all the good it does, which did counter the negativity of the scandals and definitely has had an effect on the number of people coming forward,” he said.
He remembered a similar phenomenon
happening after Pope John Paul II’s visit to
“Looking back, there was a large increase in vocations from 1984 to 1986 and people were saying then that we couldn’t have paid for such publicity,” Father Headon said.
Perhaps surprisingly, the
however, sounded a hopeful note about German vocations. He believes that many
of those who watched press coverage of the papal transition or attended World
Youth Day in
Predicted Father Headon, “The German college will see a rise in numbers in the next two to three years.”