Methods to stop Priest Shortage

Does anybody have any ideas of how to increase vocations to the priesthood?

God has sent out plenty of vocations. Too few men are answering them…

Actually, that’s not accurate.


Allow married men with a religious or philosophy degree to serve for four year terms. I’m sure that thousands of catholic men would serve for a short period of time.

For married Catholics, I would say “have more babies and pray God will call one or more of them to the priesthood or to religious life, and then be holy.” :smiley:

  1. In my area, parish and school programs often implicitly describe the Mass as an exercise to build community, where the congregation coming together is what makes Christ “present”, and the priest is only there as “presider”. The concept of the Mass as Sacrifice is almost lost in some parishes. Many have little idea what the Consecration refers to. Priests are considered as a kind of social worker.

  2. The concept of sin is almost lost. People hear about it mainly in the context of “the wealthy taking advantage of the poor” or war. They have not been taught that sin is something people like you and me do; and that confession is where I need to go; and that priests are crucial for this.

My diocese has almost no vocations. The vocational director puts in a plug for the unique character of priesthood in parish bulletins, but that is drowned out by conflicting messages. They never present priesthood in the supernatural context of the sacrament; they present the priest as a nice guy who cares about people. You can do that without becoming a priest.

Only problem with that is that ordination is not like a military commission, it’s literally forever.


No. You could never do that. First, they would lack proper and sound formation. Second, the priesthood is something that, once you are ordained, stays on your soul forever (“You are a priest forever, in the Order of Melchizedek…”). Priesthood cannot be just a touch and go system. Priests are the ministers of the sacraments, not social workers.

Priest can retire.

Of course, they can.

But you don’t take it up for a few years and then set it aside; you take it up for life.


More needs to be done to promote vocations. at least from what I’ve experienced, even something as basic as advertising is a novel concept. Granted, priesthood is more than just a job or career choice, but at the same time there needs to be active promotion of the vocation (as well as that to religious life). In the past, dioceses and orders enjoyed the luxury of an abundance of applications; now, with applications no longer knocking at the door (or at least doing so in significantly reduced numbers) two alternatives are available: going out an actively encouraging applications, or just staying “inside” and saying every now and then “awfully quiet these days.”

So, after that lofty rhetoric, some practical thoughts :slight_smile: First of all every country / bishops conference (or region in larger countries) should have a vocations office with a full time director who would be responsible for organising national / regional events for vocations and co-ordinating events / activities between diocesan vocations directors. Secondly, every diocese should have regular enquiry / discernment group meetings with add on activities such as retreats / conferences which could be organised in conjunction with other dioceses / orders. thirdly, as much information as possible about vocations should be made available online with enquirers encouraged to e-mail (or text) their local vocations director for more information. As part of this, vocations directors would obviously need to check, read and respond to e-mail / texts (you’d think that this would go without saying but…).

By way of example, see the English National Office for Vocations and the Invocation
event series.

In our parish, our pastor runs the altar boy program like a vocations program.,

Boys are invited starting at about age 5, and serve well into college. Almost every boy in the parish is an altar boy.

And since a priest attends God’s altar at virtually every Mass he attends even if it is just to sit in choir. You never see a priest just sit for Mass in the pews with everyone else. Our pastor expects the same from the boys. So there is no schedule, if a boy is present, he serves, even if it is to just sit in choir.

So for the Sunday morning Masses, we generally have 60-70 boys serving.

No human endeavor can cause God to call a man to the priesthood, that is a free choice by God alone to do so. But both parents and pastors can help create fertile ground for such a calling to fall and grow.

And our pastor does that incredibly well. In a parish of about 900 families, we have had 12 men ordained to the priesthood in the last 10 years (and two men to the Diaconate)

Yes Eucharistic adoration. In dioceses where this is promoted there are many vocations.Along w/ adoration prayer for vocations.We need to pray and ask for vocations.Also proper faith formation- the faith needs to be taught properly w/ fidelity to the Church.A return to tradition is also beneficial.The orthodox and traditional seminaries do not have a shortage of vocations. From my experience most of the young people I know want orthodoxy solid teaching and a sacred and reverent mass(I agree w/ them).Family support is also important.Parents need to be open to a son becoming a priest which is a blessing.

This is incorrect.

A man cannot retire from being a priest. Being ordained a priest leaves an indelible mark upon the soul, which cannot be removed.

However, priests can retire from being the pastor of a parish, or a chaplain, but they still remain as priests.

I suggest you do some reading into the theology of ordination and the priesthood.

I think the unfortunate fact is we don’t have a shortage of priests, we have a shortage of Catholics. The number of vocations is probably reflective of the number of faithful Catholics out there.

The estimates are that only 25% of Catholics attend Mass weekly, which is the bare minimum God asks. We have plenty of priests to serve a Catholic population that size.

The problem is those same priests have to also minister to the large number of “cafeteria” Catholics who request the Sacraments. The households of “cafeteria” Catholics are likely producing very few vocations, but they demand a lot of attention from priests.

If most Catholics followed the precepts and moral laws of the Church, there would be plenty of priests.

God Bless

Yeh, those “durn” sinners always sucking up a priest’s time. Kinda like those crowds that were always bugging Jesus for free favors.

I’m not talking about sinners, I’m talking about non-observant Catholics.

The Church has an infrastructure built for a time when 80% of Catholics attended Mass weekly, and now only 20-25% do. So, you have priests saying 3 Masses every Sunday to 1/3 filled Churches, except on Christmas and Easter.

God Bless

Yes priests retire from pastoral work, but they are still priests. A retired priest can still validly say Mass and administer the sacraments. It’s like Baptism or Comfirmation, you recieve it forever. You can’t be unconfirmed or unbaptised, the mark stays on your soul forever, even if you end up in hell. Likewise for a priest being ordained they are a priest forever. So when you here about a man leaving the priesthood, he is no longer actively serving, but weather he likes it or not he is still a priest. A bishop can take a priests faculties away which means that he is no longer allowed to administer the sacraments except in extreme cases, but even so the man is still a priest. Once ordained, a man is a priest forever.

Even retired priests in my diocese can (and do) serve Mass and hear Confessions. Just because they are retired, it doesn’t mean they are no longer priests. It just means they won’t be regularly involved in parish life and will not be instituted as pastors. :wink:

But we’re not. Which is why there’s a shortage. So what do we do to change the tide? The first thing that comes to mind is to make it easier for married men to become priests.

As for having more children…no. I’m not going to have seven or eight or nine kids just on the off chance that one of them would hear the call.

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