The (not so) secret formula for attracting men to the priesthood

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jun 09, 2017

Are you surprised by today’s report that 69% of the American men being ordained to the priesthood this year had made a habit of praying the Rosary before entering the seminary? Or are you, like me, surprised that apparently 31% had not?

For any Catholic with a devotion to Our Lady, the Rosary is a constant companion. And for any Catholic who does not constantly invoke Mary’s protection, a life of celibacy is going to be difficult at best, particularly in our oversexed society. Would these young men go into a battle wearing day-glo bullseyes on their chests? Because that’s essentially what they’re doing, if they plunge into a life of celibacy without the right spiritual armor. Let’s hope that the 31% developed the habit of praying the Rosary during their seminary years.

The CARA survey also reports that 77% of our new priests participated in Eucharistic adoration. That’s a difficult sort of statistic, since whereas anyone can say the Rosary anywhere, Eucharistic adoration is not available in every parish. But it makes perfect sense that among the young men who have made the decision to spend their lives in service to our Eucharistic Lord, a solid majority have already spent a good deal of time alone with Him.

That statistic also sends a message to every Church leader worried about the looming shortage of priests in the US. You want more men entering the seminary? Promote more Eucharistic adoration. The connection is direct, obvious, and demonstrable.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: normnuke - Jun. 09, 2017 11:55 PM ET USA

    I am a member of a SSPX community and we contribute to the support of Novus priests who are flocking to us in desperation. Your readers should read the latest issue of First Things to get a feeling for what it is about the Old Latin Rite that is so attractive. Especially in contrast to "what's happening in the Novus" Yes, Marian devotion. Yes the Rosary. Church in the round? Nein.

  • Posted by: feedback - Jun. 09, 2017 6:57 PM ET USA

    Great statistics that show God has not abandoned his Church. There were times and dioceses where these solid, mentally stable, Catholic young men would be turned down as being too proselytising or too rigid for priesthood. Thankfully, it is changing.