Rise in US seminary numbers brings ‘big smile’ to Pope’s face

Bishop James D. Conley in Rome, Italy, May 4, 2012

Vatican City, May 6, 2012 / 04:06 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop James D. Conley of Denver said the news of rising seminarian numbers across the United States has delighted Pope Benedict XVI.

“He was very happy to receive that information,” Bishop Conley told CNA on May 4 after meeting the Pope at the Vatican.

“He said he had heard that vocations were going up in the United States and he said this is very positive news and, in fact, he had a big smile on his face when he heard the news.”

Bishop Conley was one of ten bishops from Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming who had an audience with Pope Benedict as part of their five-day “ad limina” pilgrimage to Rome which concludes tomorrow.

He explained to the Pope that there is now a year-on-year increase in the numbers of young men opting for the priesthood across many US dioceses.

“I told him that in the Archdiocese of Denver both of our seminaries, St John Vianney Theological Seminary and Redeptoris Mater Neo-catechumenal seminary, are full,” the bishop added.

“In fact we have more applicants than we have space so for the first time in many years we have to create a waiting list which is a good problem to have.”

The most recent statistics show a similar story across the United States. Last year the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University estimated that the 2011 seminary intake was up 4 percent on the previous year and had reached its highest figure in 20 years. Meanwhile, Rome’s North American College is full to its 250 capacity for the first time in decades.

Upon hearing that Bishop Conley was from Denver, Pope Benedict warmly recalled World Youth Day 1993 which was hosted by the Colorado city. At present the Archdiocese of Denver is vacant following the departure of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput to Philadelphia in September 2011.

Bishop Conley said he does not know when a successor will be appointed but he is certain that they will “carry on the great work of Archbishop Chaput in his 14 years and Cardinal Stafford before him,” describing their legacy as “a great flourishing of the faith” where “a lot of new movements, a lot of new evangelization” took place.

He believed that elsewhere could learn from “the Denver experience” as the universal Church approaches the “Year of Faith” later this year.

In particularl, he thought people should take note of Archbishop Chaput’s ability to “teach the truth in all its clarity, even when challenging people against what the trends are in society, but yet doing it with love and compassion.”

This approach, said Bishop Conley, is particularly successful with young people who have a “genuine openness to truth.”

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22 Responses to Rise in US seminary numbers brings ‘big smile’ to Pope’s face

  1. JabbaPapa says:

    toad, they’re a bunch of rebels and schismatics, not representative of anything more meaningful than their own egotism

  2. Giovanni A. Cattaneo says:

    Redeptoris Mater Neo-catechumenal seminary being full is more of a glass is half empty news. God only knows what heretical and abuse laden “liturgies” are being practiced.

  3. toadspittle says:

    .
    Trust Giovanni to see the funny side!

    “…a bunch of rebels and schismatics, not representative of anything more meaningful than their own egotism.”
    …A pretty fair description of Toad himself, eh Jabba?

    Also, probably, what the Romans thought of early Christians, and what Catholics thought of early Protestants.
    Or what Sunni’s think of Shia’s. Or contrariwise.

    Which is not to say that it isn’t true, of course…

  4. Jerry says:

    The United States is experiencing a population surge with respect to its overwhelmingly Catholic Hispanic population. This is caused by both higher birth rates among Hispanics than other ethnic groups, and immigration. As with all such population movements (e.g the Irish in the 19th Century), the rate of immigration will slow, and the birth rate within the immigrant population will drop as income levels increase.

    It is entirely possible that demographic change within the United States has led to a generational bump in vocations that may mask a long term decline

  5. kathleen says:

    Giovanni, do you think you could clarify what you mean by “abuse laden liturgies“? Precisely because the surge in vocations in the US has been in the far more ‘traditional’ seminaries, the North American College in Rome and in Denver (where the orthodox Archbishop Charles Chaput laid the ground), one could surmise that nothing of that sort would be acceptable.

    Jerry, you make a good observation, but it is still rather a one-sided outlook.
    I would be more inclined to believe that the increase in vocations in places where the Faith is untainted by ‘liberalism’ (liberalism meaning here = “open to new behaviour or opinions and willing to discard tradition“), is precisely because traditional Catholic teaching and piety is what attracts young men to the priesthood. If, as seems to be the case (Deo gratias), the trend of the Holy Catholic Church worldwide – and probably due in a large extent to the papacy of our wonderful Pope Benedict XVI – is now moving in this direction, this return to orthodoxy is what could be the main reason for the rise in vocations.

    For too long now we have been suffering a melted down type of Catholic teaching in schools and seminaries; all this is starting, slowly but surely, to recover. These statistics of the numbers of seminarians is just one of the signs. In the most liberal dioceses everywhere, where there is a sort of lukewarm attitude or downright disobedience to Catholic teaching, efforts to evangelise are simply like ‘shuffling chairs on the Titanic’.

  6. toadspittle says:

    .

    “…liberalism meaning here = “open to new behaviour or opinions and willing to discard tradition..“ “
    Which is, I suggest Kathleen,, a very good description of the attitude and intentions of Christ and his disciples some 2,000 years ago.

  7. kathleen says:

    Ah but Toad, this “new behaviour” or “opinions” are what are opposed to Christ’s teaching…. that was then expounded far and wide by the Apostles, and later by the Church Fathers. Tradition here in the Catholic sense is taken from what Christ has left us with. Why should we want to “discard” such a treasure?

  8. toadspittle says:

    .
    Well, Kathleen, you may assert that certain “liberal” aspects of “new behaviour” and/or “opinions” are opposed to Christ’s teachings, but other Catholics may strongly disagree, indeed they appear to do so.

    They might well tell you that what they are doing – or trying to do – is to go back to what Christ really meant, before his message was buried under all the gold leaf, and bling, and incense, and Vatican cover-up politics, and corruption, and pedophilia, all rolled up in a great big shiny, greasy ball labelled “tradition.

    But then, they may tell you nothing of the sort.

    Your interpretation might well be the correct one, or maybe theirs is.
    Or maybe both viewpoints are wrong, for all I know. I have no idea.

    So Toad is in no hurry to judge, and will keep an open mind.

  9. kathleen says:

    I don’t believe the ‘liberals’ are trying to do that Toad. I believe they are trying to make a church in their own image and likeness, rather than that of Our Lord Jesus Christ. They propound things that are in strict contrast to His teachings, and leave out things they find ‘unpleasant’… important teachings of Christ’s like the consequences of sin, the four Last Things etc. They degrade the Sacred Eucharist, calling it a ‘communal meal’ instead of what it really is, the reenactment of His Most Holy Sacrifice on Calvary. Many liberals are full of pride, pretending to know better than the Pope and Magisterium, the guides the Holy Spirit has chosen. They make scathing attacks on God’s ministers. As Jabba mentions above, “they are a bunch of rebels and schismatics”. May God have mercy on their souls.

    One more thing: you may not like the gold, incense etc., but all this is no more than man’s wish to give the very best of this world to honour God to the best of his capabilities. Beautiful churches, paintings, images and so on, are expressions of that love. They help many – perhaps not Toad – to lift their minds and hearts to God in prayer.

  10. Jerry says:

    I believe they are trying to make a church in their own image and likeness, rather than that of Our Lord Jesus Christ. They propound things that are in strict contrast to His teachings, and leave out things they find ‘unpleasant’… important teachings of Christ’s like the consequences of sin, the four Last Things etc. They degrade the Sacred Eucharist, calling it a ‘communal meal’ instead of what it really is, the reenactment of His Most Holy Sacrifice on Calvary. Many liberals are full of pride, pretending to know better than the Pope and Magisterium, the guides the Holy Spirit has chosen. They make scathing attacks on God’s ministers. As Jabba mentions above, “they are a bunch of rebels and schismatics”. May God have mercy on their souls.

    Kathleen you are simplifying greatly and painting in very broad brush strokes here. Liberalism, like conservatism is not a single monolithic programme. Elements of liberalism and conservatism co-exist within the Church and also within individual members of the Church.

    Instead of simply hurling these charges at an amorphous group called “liberals”, you should criticise the views espoused by particular individuals or clearly defined groups. You might also identify problematic tendencies within liberalism; but a polemical statement such as I believe they are trying to make a church in their own image and likeness, rather than that of Our Lord Jesus Christ which you have targetted simply at “liberals” is of no use to anyone.

  11. Jerry says:

    Sorry the italics should end after the first paragraph where the quote from Kathleen ends

  12. toadspittle says:

    .
    “One more thing: you may not like the gold, incense etc.,”

    Where do you get these odd ideas, Kathleen? I positively revel in the gold, ivory, marble, alabaster and incense and six-foot candles and artwork of the Church!
    And I live in the perfect place to do so. Nothing (well, hardly anything) gives me more aesthetic satisfaction than a 13th century retablo, in a 14th century side-chapel, of a 15th century cathedral, involving scenes of saints being martyred by having their buttocks cut off with red hot scissors by Roman soldiers with wicked faces!
    But then, who would disagree? And it’s fun, and educational for the kiddies.

    But that is by the way. The “serious” (!) import of my comments is – to trundle out the weary old cliche – is that it takes all sorts, etc., and we ought not be too quick to rush to judgement.
    You seem to think that the “liberals,” as you call them, are deliberately trying to do evil.
    I doubt that is so.
    In my lengthy, and occasionally painful, experience – people are seldom totally right – or totally wrong – about practically any subject. Particularly metaphysics.

    (Blah, blah.What a pompous old bloviator you are getting to be, Toad! Get the dogs out.)

  13. kathleen says:

    Kathleen you are simplifying greatly and painting in very broad brush strokes here. Liberalism, like conservatism is not a single monolithic programme. Elements of liberalism and conservatism co-exist within the Church and also within individual members of the Church.”

    Yes, thank you Jerry – point taken. I do agree with you, and I have many dear friends who are a mixture of this ‘liberalism and conservatism'; we have lengthy interesting discussions sometimes….. and we never come to blows ;-). I was referring to the very extreme liberalism of the groups who are in reality schismatics who, while preferring to remain within the Catholic Church, do nothing but undermine its teachings and criitcise the Holy Father and the Church’s ministers. (And I am not talking just of objective, constructive criticism.) These ‘liberals’ (or rebels) do a tremendous amount of harm and cause such confusion to people.
    Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried away by all sorts of strange teaching.” (Hebrews 13:8-9a)

    In my earlier comment to you I was pointing out how vocations to the priesthood are far far higher among those with a more conservative (or traditional) attitude to the Catholic Faith. Actually, rather than either of these qualifications, I think it would be true to simply call them ‘faithful‘ Catholics.

  14. kathleen says:

    Where do I get my ‘odd ideas‘ Toad? (Referring to ornate and beautiful churches, etc.)
    Well it was from your earlier comment:
    They might well tell you that what they are doing – or trying to do – is to go back to what Christ really meant, before his message was buried under all the gold leaf, and bling, and incense…..”

    Glad to hear you didn’t mean it :-).

    And no, I do not believe the “amorphous group called “liberals”” (as Jerry puts it) are ‘trying to do evil’……. of course not. That’s just the point: most probably they have been well and truly seduced by the devil into thinking they are doing the ‘right’ thing in confronting the teaching of the Pope and Magisterium. No one should believe they are beyond falling into temptation; we can all be ‘seduced’ in many ways into sin, which is why constant prayer, vigilance and humility is always necessary.

    BTW, I don’t think you are a “a pompous old bloviator” dear Toad. Perhaps Kathleen is though :-(.

  15. toadspittle says:

    .
    “Glad to hear you didn’t mean it …”

    Well I was musing about what “Liberals” might possibly think, Kathleen, not giving my own opinion.

    As they say in Ohio, I don’t have a dog in this fight.

  16. toadspittle says:

    .
    “These ‘liberals’ (or rebels) do a tremendous amount of harm and cause such confusion to people..”

    Kathleen’s utter certainty – that her understanding of Catholicism is correct, and all else wrong – is, as youngsters today frequently exclaim…awesome!

  17. The Raven says:

    “… before his message was buried under all the gold leaf, and bling, and incense, and Vatican cover-up politics, and corruption, and pedophilia, all rolled up in a great big shiny, greasy ball labelled “tradition.” 

    “…

    “So Toad is in no hurry to judge, and will keep an open mind.”

    I note that Toad has his best irony flippers on this morning. 

  18. JabbaPapa says:

    FWIW, the toad’s sense of irony is of the highest quality. IMO. For what it’s worth.

    Probably not much, given that it’s such a beautiful day outside and people have far better things to do with their time than read these words.

    Oh well.

    Sus Eia and all that jazz…

  19. toadspittle says:

    .
    Toad wouldn’t dream of uttering such outrageous statements as… “… before his message was buried under all the gold leaf, and bling, and incense, and Vatican cover-up politics, and corruption, and pedophilia, all rolled up in a great big shiny, greasy ball labelled “tradition,” …on his own behalf.
    God forbid. As they say.

    “Liberals” however, are capable of enormity of every stripe. Or so it would seem.

  20. Mimi says:

    Jabba, are you channelling Toad?? :)

  21. kathleen says:

    Kathleen’s utter certainty – that her understanding of Catholicism is correct, and all else wrong – is, as youngsters today frequently exclaim…awesome!”

    Toad’s capacity for getting things WRONG is what is awesome here!

    It is precisely because I know nothing on my own, I prefer to put my trust in the Pope, Christ’s Vicar on Earth, and Holy Mother Church – from whom we have His word will be guided by the Holy Spirit – to learn the Truth.

    Of course Toad thinks himself quite capable of making his own judgements on absolutely everything……. the wisest old owl in the ‘wood’.

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