Monday, 19 November 2007

Growing Number of Men for Priesthood

A recent article in The Times reported that there has been a steady growing numbers of men training for priesthood in the Roman Catholic church in recent years, thanks to a series of aggressive and creative advertisement campaigns.

The report also highlighted several interesting developments in the Catholic church.
  • From the lowest recruits of 26 in the year 2002, there has been a steady increase over a period of 4 years to 44 applicants .

  • The average of men entering priesthood is now 28, the youngest it has been in years.

  • A disproportionate number of the new seminarians at the Westminster archdiocese's seminary at Allen Hall are coming into the priesthood through the “ecclesiastical movements” that proliferated after the Second Vatican Council. These groups are officially recognised organisations that follow a particular founder and are usually led by the laity. They often take the model of the early Church as their example, meeting as small communities to pray and study scripture.

Read the rest of the article here.

It is also interesting to compare some of these figures to my seminary's new intake for the coming 2008 academic year. While we are encouraged by some of the recent developments, it seems to me that the latest statistics also reveal some concerns and trends that both the church and seminary need to consider seriously. More of this later.


BK said...

Interesting! According to John Richardson, the opposite is happening in the Church of England. What is the situation like in Malaysia?

Kar Yong said...

Hi BK,

It seems that there has been a revival in the Catholic church, at least in KL/PJ area. I live near 2 Catholic churches in PJ. Since I returned from the UK, I notice that on Saturdays and Sundays, there seems to be many more cars parked on the roads now compared to 4 years ago when I left for the UK. I have never seen anything like this before during the last 14 year that I have been living in PJ.

One of my relatives who is a Catholic also mentioned that there has been an increase of church attendance in recent years.

I'm told the retreat programmes organised by the Jesuit retreat centre in Janda Baik are almost always fullly booked.

But I am uncertain about the number of people going into priesthood, but I do know there are some priests that are younger than me.

In STM, at age 39, I remain the youngest faculty member, and the next youngest faculty is a number of years apart from me, and he is not a you might ask, "Where are the young people groomed for faculty development in seminaries?" Bearing in mind that we need at least 7-8 years in faculty development (assuming 3 years for MDiv, 1 year ThM, and at least another 3 years for PhD), even if we start theological education at, say age 30, by the time a person earned his/her PhD, it would be late 30s already.

blogpastor said...

Thanks for highlighting this interesting fact. Vatican II bearing spiritual fruit-great news!

Kar Yong said...

Hi blogpastor,

You're welcome. Just wondering whether the protestant church needs a similar Vatican II?

Alex Tang said...

Hi kar yong,

It is interesting that you mention 7-8 years for faculty development. It must be mentioned that the Jesuit takes that amount of time to produce a a full fledge ordained priest.

The Roman Catholic Church is growing fast. I read in Christianity Today November 2007 that the Catholic Church in Africa has increased by 6,708 percent!

That is the fruits of Vatican II. Now we are post post Vatican II with Pope Benedict, things may change. I hope not.

Do we need a Vaican II? Nah.

Lee Chee Keat said...

Yup..tis is the concern to me too. One of my lay leaders was questioning why I need to go bible college as they found those students who came out from bible college were not as charismatic as they were before. IN fact, a lot of megachurches I learned wanted to have their own bible colleges and perceived bible college being too intellectual and critical. To add further, there are some young adults I encountered, were apprehensive of going to local bible colleges here as standards are perceived not as high as the overseas ones. I saw some they send their young adults lay leaders to do Moore distance learning or Pentecostal bible college distance learning from other countries instead of the local bible college here offering the same thing. Perhaps effective promotion, advertisement and clarification of standards need to be communicated to encourage more to go local bible colleges. I think it's time to promote why exegesis is important for everyone which could lead and create more needs to go bible college.

Kar Yong said...

Dear Chee Keat,

Our hope lies in you. Make sure you do well in STM, be even more passionate about God and the scripture after graduation, preach and teach with authority, passion and zeal, and allow the gospel to transform and change your life. When they see the fruit in your life, they will be convinced. That is the best advertisement and marketing strategy. Not to mention a very effective branding exercise for STM too!

Having said that, I am glad to see a number of locally trained lecturers in STM. They are excellent teachers. I can't say that for myself as I am still a product of the "western" world, having done my theological education at the both sides of the Atlantic.