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The lost generation of priests


In July 2006, the Italian newspaper Avvenire published an article entitled "Young People and Vocations," based on a survey, conducted by the Italian institute Eurisko, of one thousand young people between I6 to 29 years of age. The study showed that I0 youths out of I00 feel at some point a call to the priesthood or religious life (male and female), but the majority abandon the idea after a few months.

Among the reasons for so many failed vocations is that 7I% of young people said they had no friends who had the desire to consecrate themselves to the Lord. Twenty-nine percent felt called after a personal experience, such as a visit to a monastery, a pilgrimage or a spiritual retreat. Avvenire lamented that the data reflected the fact that abandonment of the call was followed above all by "the abandonment suffered by young people."

Another reason for failed vocations is that young people feel they must give up too many things, for example, marriage, to which is added the fear of loneliness. The Italian newspaper highlighted young people's need for someone to support them, as a recent study of the survey revealed that 70% of the young people interviewed could not mention a man or a woman who represented a point of intellectual reference. The newspaper concluded, "There is a crisis of vocations also because there is a crisis of credible guides."

The Lost Generation of Priests

A survey carried out in ten parishes in Dublin on Vocations Sunday in May 2004, in two secondary schools, revealed that I0% of the I78 people under the age of 25 who completed the survey answered ‘Yes’ to a question “If it were suggested to me, I would seriously consider a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.” What would a similar survey reveal in your diocese? Sadly, only nine men were ordained to the priesthood in all of Ireland during 2005. In 2006 there were only 30 men studying for the priesthood compared to 176 male vocations in 1981. The following year 160 priests died in Ireland whilst only nine men were ordained. At present there are currently about 500 priests in active ministry in the Archdiocese of Dublin but only 14 men in formation.

28% of the I75 men who completed a questionnaire at Brisbane’s Careers Expo in 2006 replied in the affirmative when asked “Are you interested in talking to someone about the possibility that God might be calling you to Priesthood or Religious Life?”

A survey of U.S. men ordained in 2003, revealed 78 percent of them said a priest invited them to discern a call. However, a 200I study showed that only 30 percent of diocesan and religious priests in the United States actively invite men to the priesthood. Regretfully, this lack of invitation and the absence of any encouragement to a number of our young men to answer the Lord’s call was dramatically illustrated in the year 2005 when 48 dioceses in the United States reported that no men were ordained to the priesthood that year.

Failure to Act


Vocations Guide to Priesthood


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