Grassroots discernment program announced as Philly priestly vocations soar

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Vesting of news priests during their Mass of Ordination. Credit: Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is witnessing a lot of exciting things these days: there’s the World Meeting of Families next month that will include a visit from Pope Francis, and now, a sizeable increase in vocations to the priesthood.

On Aug. 19 the archdiocese announced that in the upcoming academic year St. Charles Borromeo Seminary will have the highest enrollment numbers it’s seen in over ten years, with 20 new seminarians and 145 total seminarians.

"With the servant leadership example of Pope Francis and Archbishop Chaput, these young men are once again experiencing the freedom that comes from this choice over a society that is increasingly secular and experiencing the emptiness of a world without God,” Bishop Timothy Senior, an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese and rector of Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, said in the announcement.

"It is extraordinarily gratifying to see these young men choosing a life of service to Jesus Christ and the people of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.”

Capitalizing on this momentum, the Philadelphia archdiocese has announced it will launch a new program focused on engaging parishioners, as well as potential candidates, in the discernment process.

"Building on the visit and anticipated inspiration of Pope Francis' visit, Called by Name will educate parishioners about the qualities of a good priest and ask people to suggest the names of potential candidates," said Fr. Stephen Delacy, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's vocations director.

“Called by Name” will help teach Catholics about the priesthood during the first two weekends in November, and then invite them to recognize those in their parish who they think might be called to that vocation beginning Nov. 16.

Potential candidates will also be invited to “Come and See” weekends at the seminary, and dinners focused on vocational discernment.

The archdiocese said that this increase in vocations has been accompanied by a greater diversity of seminarians at St. Charles Borromeo.

"Our church must continue to reflect the ethnic diversity of our world and especially our region. These new seminarians will make us even more sensitive to the spiritual needs of our parishioners,” Bishop Senior said. 

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