Why do we have a priest shortage?


Our we shooting ourselves in the foot? We need to find future priests from within our neighborhoods. I believe we are not finding our future priest because of the following.

  1. We don’t (at Mass time) ask (usually) done by the priest, invite family members to encourage their children in becoming a priest or nun.

  2. We don’t encourage our own children enough to look into religious life as a vocation.

  3. In the US we are no longer having many children in which vocations could come from them.

any other ideas or reasons? Bottom line it may be up to us lay people to keep priest coming but how can we do this?


I think reasons 2 and 3 are most on point. Catholic parents have not done any where near the job they ought to have done as the domestic church the last thirty years.


Did you choose to be a priest or nun? Why would you encourage someone else to be one. What kind of parents, who are living a normal life, would encourage their children to sacrifice their lives to become priests and nuns. It is one thing if the person feels called to it, it’s another for someone to encourage or pressure their child to take up such an abnormal lifestyle.


I understand that you are not a catholic, but I find the comment, “abnormal lifestyle” to be very offensive. :frowning:


That* is* an offensive statement. Not only that, but priests and religious are called to be supernaturally holy, with the help of God. How is that wrong?

And yes, I do encourage people who have chosen to become priests. I pray for them, I try to attend Mass at the seminary from time to time and encourage the seminarians. We have several seminarians at the seminary, and my parish has more than a few vocations happening right now.


Priesthood and religious life is not even close to being abnormal. I’ve spoken to priests and nuns and many say that their lives are great and they are some of the most joyful people I’ve met.

My parents never pressured me to think about priesthood, but when I told them that I was very open to the idea they were very supportive.

I don’t think these Dominican nuns youtube.com/watch?v=sW8A9uvSjSg&feature=player_detailpage#t=0 have abnormal lives.


Various reasons. I heard a great many of them just plainly change their minds on Day 1 of their seminary days, when reality sets in. Others go through just to get their Divinity degrees. These aren’t necessarily bad things. There are other ways to serve God other than through priesthood. But even as priests, they may not necessarily be saying Mass or facing the public.


I don’t think abnormal is the right word, but I don’t think you were trying to be offensive, either.


Hopefully, if the discernment and selection processes have been effective, few candidates will change their mind on day one (although I do know someone who did this). I agree though that, in principle, a decision to discontinue the priestly formation journey isn’t a bad thing - if a man feels he isn’t called to priesthood then leaving is really the best thing he can do. The seminary programme is, after all, a journey of discernment.

I agree though that there is less (active) encouragement than in the past. I think that there’s a reluctance to do so in order to avoid putting pressure on potential candidates. As well, many applicants today are older than in previous years and so the idea of a vocation from childhood is more diminished. As far as the idea of an “abnormal lifestyle” is concerned, in many ways I agree that it is abnormal (depending I suppose on what you regard as “normal”) - if nothing else, it’s certainly counter cultural. However, this is something which, although challenging, can also be an encouragement in that it helps reinforce the notion that it really is a calling from God. In the words of a (non-Catholic) friend of mine “you don’t just wake up and, because it’s Tuesday, decide to do it.”

What I would say though is that it is the lay faithful who are, in some ways, the best placed to identify future priests and so, if you see someone who you think would make a good priest, ask them if they’ve ever considered it.


First I would like to offer some hope. There has been a number of reports over the past few years that the number of seminarians in the country has been steadily increasing. It may not be to the point where we are able to fully replace all the priests we are losing to retirement, but I think it is something to be joyful about.

Example: ncronline.org/news/faith-parish/cara-reports-us-seminary-theology-numbers-highest-1988-89

As for causes, I think it’s generally the culture, but specifically (now I’m treading into dangerous territory here) the Post-Vatican II Catholic Culture.

As a man, I want to know that there is something worth fighting for, and I need to know that I am wanted. You can kind of view Priestly vocation the same way you would view military service. A man is asked to give their lives for something, they better believe it will be worth it.

Now all we hear is: “Priests should be married!” and “Women should be priests!” That will help vocations!

I disagree.

While I was growing up and thinking about what I wanted to be, I never once thought about being a Priest, because I never had encouragement to do so, but I did think about joining the Air Force. We say the pledge of allegiance every day. We have years and years of history classes. We are entrenched in American society every day, and certain special men and women feel the need to fight for it. For vocations to increase, we need to see this happen with the church, and I think it starts at home. Parenthood is a vocation, too, and part of that vocation is to raise saintly children. Parents need to pray every day for their children, make sure they have the right friends, watch the right movies, give them a biography of a saint every once in a while to read. I think we’re in a good spot in history to see great things happen, better than at any time in the recent past, but there is still a lot of work to do.



Yes, things do seem to be improving in the North American Church. There are increasing number of men attending seminary than at any time in over thirty years, and a good number of them are to be ordained (and remain) deacons on a permanent basis. This bodes well for the Church. In fact, a number of convents are getting more and more ladies coming in, the majority of which are quite young. I think it was 60 minutes that did a bit on this in regards a religious order of sisters in Michigan a year or two ago. This is fantastic news on all fronts. :thumbsup:




There is certainly some truth in this although, if anything, I’d say that the Church is in fact only now settling down into the post-Vatican II era. Part of the problem has been the understanding of and approach to celibacy. Prior to Vatican II celibacy basically wasn’t discussed (except perhaps to warn young seminarians away from dangers of the female variety). In the years immediately after Vatican II a significant number of priests and seminarians expected the celibacy requirement to change, in some cases prior to their expected ordination. Of course this didn’t happen, leading many of these priests and seminarians to leave and leading to the current shortage. Now however, aside from a few rumblings here and there, it’s pretty much expected that little, if any, change is going to happen. More importantly however, the current emphasis is only celibacy as a gift from God as well as a means by which a priest can give himself totally to Christ in service of the people of God rather than seeing it as an obligation.


In the West coast it was different. I found that the Seminaries were filled but with gay students. My guess was that 30%-40% of the Seminarians were gay or contemplating the lifestyle. I have found throughout the years that we need quality Seminarians not quantity. Decades later the priest abuse scandal hit. I wasn’t surprised. The Seminary held 120 students.


There was a recent survey completed which indicated that roughly 69% of vocations are either delayed or lost entirely due to student loans debt.


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