Boom: seminary enrollment up around the country

And Catholic News Service has the numbers, and details:

In his first months as rector of Theological College in Washington, Father Phillip J. Brown has been confronting a problem that the national diocesan seminary for the U.S. Catholic Church “has not had for a long time” — it is bursting at the seams.

Enrollment is maxed out for the 2011-12 academic year at 90 seminarians. Five of those seminarians are back in their dioceses this year gaining pastoral experience, but a Sulpician seminarian and five priests from other countries also live there, bringing the total number of residents to 91 plus faculty members.

“If I had to start with a problem, that’s the problem I’d like to have,” Father Brown told Catholic News Service. “It’s a very healthy sign, a positive sign for Theological College and for the U.S. priesthood.”

The trend of rising seminary enrollment is being duplicated around the country:

— At the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, 40 new seminarians arrived this year, bringing total enrollment to 186, the highest level since the 1970s.

— St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., welcomed 30 new graduate-level seminarians, making its class of 100 seminarians the largest since 1980. The influx forced 24 seminarians and two priests off campus into leased space at a former convent.

— In the Diocese of Scranton, Pa., where the St. Pius X diocesan seminary closed in 2004 because of declining enrollment, the number of seminarians has more than doubled from eight to 17 in the past two years.

Most of the Scranton seminarians are studying at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa., where communications specialist Dan Skalski said enrollment has remained steady over the past five years, or at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, where a class of 76 “new men” brought enrollment this fall to a full house of 250 seminarians.

In an April report, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University said enrollment was up for those studying for the priesthood, diaconate and lay ecclesial ministry during the 2010-11 academic year — the latest for which statistics were available.

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4 responses to “Boom: seminary enrollment up around the country”

  1. In Cincinnati we’re also seeing a trend back to younger seminarians, after many years of mid-career candidates. I think it’s both the Holy Spirit at work and the result of a conscious effort by many ordinaries to make vocations a priority, and to appoint younger vocation directors and give them a full palette of recruiting strategies geared to new generations. Younger men also seem to be more committed to a more conservative model of Church than in the past—part of that pendulum swing—so it will be important to temper the zeal with some realistic pastoral education, or we will end up with rising clericalism along with rising vocations.

  2. Still wary. I looked at the faculty’s credentials at TC in DC & the years they received their training. It’s at institutions during the time span when the high altar/rosary witch hunt was in high gear. Are the old delusional modernists going to get a hold of these eager seminarians and brainwash them with heterodoxical evil?

    Sorry, too much damage has been done to just start jumping for joy right off the bat!

  3. Yes, in Cincinnati, like many others as a result of the Vatican driven inspections, the seminary had some major changes from the time of the announcement through the actual inspection that were all positive. Gone were some that insisted that incoming seminarians had to have strong views that were in direct contradiction with Church teaching on issues like women priests. New leadership was added, new professors, new policies, and as a result, a new influx of candidates. Of course the other change was that there was no longer openly homosexuals and the courses now clearly teach what the church teaches on this and all other topics. Several Dominicans from the local Dominican parish also come in to teach which is a good thing as well. This article and many others shows the huge positive impact the inspections had on our seminary’s.

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