The number of young men entering the seminary is up in Australia, says a Jan. 13 report in The Australian.
Leading seminaries are reporting their best intakes this year, after almost a decade of steady decline, says the report. The seminaries believe that the surge can be explained by a renewed interest in spirituality and the emphasis that George Cardinal Pell had placed on increasing the profile of the seminaries.
The Sydney seminary enrolled 14 new seminarians this year, for a total population of 41. The numbers have been increasing since 1996, when only four men entered the seminary.
Corpus Christi College in Melbourne also enrolled 10 new seminarians this year, an increase of six from last year.
In addition, seminarians are younger, some are just out of high school or university; the average age is 27. In decades past, seminarians were in their 30s, 40s or 50s.
The article states that the profile of the new seminarians is also different in that they seem to have fewer problems with the authority of the Church.
First-year seminarian Daniel Attard told The Australian that his decision to enter the seminary was a slow but considered process.
He said his devout family was very supportive about his decision, but some of his friends were not.
The 24-year-old said he was happy to take the vows of celibacy despite having had a serious relationship for several years prior to entering the seminary.
"I do miss the closeness and intimacy of a relationship but in the Church you gain other things," he was quoted as saying. "The total dedication of being part of the Church puts you on a different platform."
The Australian also reported that the rector of Corpus Christi said about 50 per cent of seminarians in any given year do not continue with their studies for the priesthood, mostly because they decide that they are called to marriage.