During the post- Vatican II years, there was a decline in vocations with the aging of the members of religious orders combined with the increase of priests leaving the ministries and the lack of seminarians. What makes it worse is the increasing number of Catholics each year that demands the pastoral service from the scanty number of priests. From the data collected by the Archdiocese every year, from 1950, there were 133 priests serving 67,275 Catholics with the ratio of 1 priest per 505 faithful. However, when compared to 2004, there were 185 priests serving 396,898 Catholics with the ratio of 1 priest per 2,145 faithful. A worthy note is that more than half of the priests are religious who came from all over the world to Vancouver with the invitation of our Archbishop to assist our Archdiocese. Without the religious and the collaboration of the laity, the Archdiocese will be in grave concern and danger of our ability to provide pastoral care for the ever growing Church.
Compiling to this worry is the diminutive number of seminarians we have each year. For the past ten years, the most number of seminarians we had in a given year were twenty and the least were nine. We are fortunate to have one or two ordinations a year but in some years we have none. It is alarming to see that out of half a million Catholics and with 49 Catholic schools, only two or three seminarians each year can be possibly produced to add to the average total of 15 seminarians.
It is hard for anyone to pinpoint exactly what is the cause of this continuous decline in vocations not only around the world but especially here in the Archdiocese of Vancouver. However, one can collate the changes over time in the rhythmic of life of the individuals and their values, purpose, orientations, needs, attitudes, goals, etc. The family has changed from a single stable unit that used to work together on the land, now becomes a smaller and unstable core that races with machines to make ends meet. Society has different values and compels on the individual to comply. It forms and informs the person to build a civilization that promotes the culture of choice and individualism. It creates a system that nullifies God. Here are some causes that we can identify in Vancouver.
(to be continued…)