"Church short on U.S.-born ministers"
By Erin McKeon The Facts. Com ( A Texas News website???)
Published October 7, 2007In Catholic churches nationwide, immigrants are being counted on to take on a job fewer Americans have been willing to do.
The church is experiencing a shortage of American-born men entering the priesthood and is relying on its global reach to fill the gap. That means Mass in some cases is more likely to be said by a native of Asia or Africa than the United States.
“Absolute-ly there is a shortage,” said Father Gerald Goodrum of St. Ambrose Church in Houston, who was raised in Sweeny. “In general, the U.S. vocations are on the rise, we’re seeing a small incremental shift upward and we are so grateful that the church is so large and universal and has resources to draw upon from other countries.”
Goodrum said Americans “are pulled in so many directions and there are so many opportunities in America.” He believes the shortage of American-born priests also could be attributed to the busy lifestyle.
Goodrum said he realized his vocation to become a priest in high school, and his mother and grandmother nurtured his calling.
“In the African culture and in the Asian culture, parents would consider it an honor for their child to become a priest or a sister, like a blessing from God,” said Sister Pauleen Troncale of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Office of Vocations.
Troncale added, however, that the dilemma has as much to do with the increasing number of people joining Catholic churches in the region, as opposed to a lesser number of American-born priests to lead them. “I like to emphasize not so much the shortage,” Troncale said. “This is a growing diocese, it’s growing and dynamic, and we need more ministers of the Lord simply to meet the growing population.”
The diocese does not recruit from other countries, she said. For anyone to become a seminarian, they must already live in the United States, regardless of their country of origin.
In the Catholic Church, there are diocesan priests and religious order priests. Diocesan priests are assigned to a particular diocese and always will serve within that geographic area. Religious order priests, however, go as missionaries to other countries and work in churches there as guests of the Archdiocese.
According to a study conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington, a quarter of seminarians in theologates, 761 in all, in 2006-07 are from countries other than the United States. This number has increased from last year’s 23 percent.
The center also reported 83 foreign countries are represented by the seminarians, with 63 percent of them preparing to be ordained for a diocese in the United States. Seminarians from religious orders make up 29 percent of the foreign-born seminarians.
The most current research by the center reveals about 7,000 international priests have worked in the United States since 1985, with an estimated 5,500 now on the job. They have arrived from Vietnam, Mexico, the Philippines, Nigeria, Poland, India and other nations throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.
“Without them it would be impossible to manage, especially with the number of Catholics there are,” Goodrum said.
If you are actively discerning a vocation to the Priesthood, Diaconate, Consecrated Life, or Marriage and you are looking for information to help in your discernment, BE SURE TO CHECK the section at the bottom of the right sidebar for the "labels" on all posts. By clicking on one of these labels it will take you to a page with all posts containing that subject. You will also find many links for suggested reading near the bottom of the right sidebar. Best wishes and be assured of my daily prayers for your discernment.