It's a call to serve...a vocation to dedicate one's life to the Church. But the question iswhat influences these seminarians to pursue the priesthood? A recent study in the U.S, shows that at least in the U.S, one of the main factors is the influence of local parish priests.
"After Mass one day... I’m about ready to leave, when Fr. Morgan stops me, this is after four years of not having said a word, and he asks me point blankly, If I want to be a priest?”
James says, he felt called to the priesthood as a child. For others like Jeff, it was seeing a parish priest suffer through a terminal illness that struck him to the core.
"Throughout that- he was joyfully suffering and embracing the cross in a sacrificial way, offering his priesthood for his parishioners and just for the complete love of Christ.”
Andrew felt the call later in life, after doing missionary work for one year and being a youth minister.
"I went to college, I had no desire to be a priest. After college I had no desire to be a priest. It was really after working for a couple of years, that it kind of hit me.”
It's estimated that 595 American seminarians will be ordained priests this year. It's a number that represents a 25 percent hike in the U.S, when compared to 2014. This according to the Center for Applied Research.
FR. PETER ARMENIO
"The quality of seminarians, especially among the younger ones is quite good, in terms of spiritual life, human virtues, hard work, comfort with the secular work.”
According to that same study, after the influence of a local parish priest, education in all its forms comes next...whether within the family or in a Catholic school or institution.
Daniel, was interested in film production, but he felt that somehow, that wasn't enough.
"The success that I could grow in the Hollywood industry is limited to myself. I realized I wanted to do something that is beyond the self, that is self giving.”
It's estimated that in the U.S, one out of every five parishes don't have an assigned parish priest.
When Pope Francis visits the U.S in September, the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops, hopes the papal visit will also trigger more vocations for generations to come.