Written by Sherry
Thursday, 19 April 2007 08:55
One of the fringe benefits of my job is the chance to have fascinating conversations with Catholic leaders all over the world whose ministry gives them insight and experience that I will never have. Recently, I had the chance to chat with a director of formation at a major US seminary and asked him how he would characterize the current crop of seminarians. He'd clearly thought much about it. Here is how he described his students:
1) They are extremely devout.
2) They are academically poorly prepared and need more remedial work than his generation.
3) They know they are loved by their parents ("baby on board" babies) but at the same time, oddly lonely and vulnerable - some of which they pour into their prayer life.
4) They are not workaholics (like his generation, he said) but more balanced in their approach to life.
5) They tend to fold rather than fight under pressure so you can only ask so much of them.
Presumably, some of this will change as they mature through the formation process. But they are going into a high pressure situation where they will be made pastors almost immediately and may well have responsibility for two or three parishes, (due to the shortage of priests), have to work very hard and deal with conflicting demands on every side, will probably live alone, etc. I couldn't help but be concerned about their future.
The number of priests will stabilize about 2015 when the last of the V2 generation leaves ministry but every indication is that the number of Catholics in the US (especially Hispanics) will keep growing so the pressure on the newly ordained won't let up.
Comments? How can we help support them and carry the load?