MRS McDonnell (Have Your Say, CL 30/1/05) raises a couple of interesting questions regarding the study into the priest shortage in Brisbane archdiocese and why more hasn’t been done to alleviate the impending crisis.
The chairman of the Commission for Evangelisation and Pastoral Planning (CEPP), accepting what is perceived as the inevitable, advised that it will require thought outside normal parameters and hinted that the way things are done in parishes will necessitate change.
My understanding is that on the back of struggling diocesan ordinations there have been no new entrants to the Brisbane seminary this year. However, worldwide there has been a 19 per cent increase in candidates between 1990 and 2002.
The story in Australia is mixed, where in some dioceses vocations have plummeted and yet there are others (Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Wagga Wagga) where there has been substantial growth.
This is despite calls for the relaxation of the celibacy laws, female ordination, less respect for the priesthood, less visibility in numbers, little or no vocational visitation to schools and that no current seminarian has nominated RE as beneficial to his vocation.
The answer may simply lie therefore in strong (not necessarily popular) leadership and positive parish priests.
We are praying and hoping sincerely that the chairman of CEPP thinks outside the square and seeks advice from these four dioceses.
They may suggest college, school, parish, youth group and campus visitations, the distribution of literature and advertising, a Web page, retreats, inquiry days and arranged visits to the seminary for Catholic colleges. Maybe even a vocations congress.
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