As we just celebrated Good Shepherd Sunday and looking forward to a few ordinations especially of Juan Lucca, I would like to dedicate this column for Vocations during this Spring time.
“The Harvest Is Plentiful but the Laborers Are Few” Mt 9:23
Taking a pulse, the rate at which the heart beats, is a traditional way to obtain a quick evaluation of a person’s health. If we are to take a pulse on Vocation today, we may find with difficulty a faint beat that leads to the conclusion that Vocation to the diocesan priesthood and consecrated life in the diocese of Vancouver is “under the weather”. An example to support this diagnosis is the number of nine seminarians we have recently in 2007.
Digging through the archive from 1977 to 2010, the most number of seminarians who studied for the Archdiocese of Vancouver in a year was twenty-two, and that was in 1986. The average number of seminarians within the thirty years is fifteen. This figure is not only a concern in the Archdiocese, but it is also a worry for many other dioceses across Canada. At our local Archdiocesan Seminary of Christ the King operated by the Benedictines, just nine years ago, the seminary did not know where to put extra college students. However, in the school year of 2007, its entire first floor and few other rooms were empty.
We can identify many factors that contribute to the lack of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. A major cause is the affluent society we live in – a society that train us and in particular, our young people to strive hard to meet the high standard of living. Thus, a level of comfortableness indulged by many young people makes them accustomed to a self centered lifestyle instead of self giving. Consequently, they do not want to give themselves in the service of the Church; for them, what the Church can offer is not as important as what the world offers. This standard of life also causes the family size to shrink considerably to accommodate the increasing demands. In the early fifties and sixties, the birth rate in Canada was from 35-46 births/1000 population (4 children or more per family). From the nineties up to this year, Statistics of Canada shows the birth rate of 10.75 births/1000 population (just over a child per family). How can parents want to offer their children to God when they have only one or two kids?
Others causes are: the non existence of the practice of the faith in the family, the lack of the priority for religious education, promotions and examples from priests, instability of marriage and commitment, etc. We can go on and on, pointing out the many reasons and grounds for the decline in vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. But the most important thing is what are we going to do about it?