Polish priests fill need for ministers in European countries

.- Due to the shortage of British clergy, dozens of priests from Poland arrive in the United Kingdom each month to take charge of parishes and minister to the growing number of Polish migrant workers, reported The Guardian. While some are long-term assignments, some priests just fly in for the weekend to celebrate mass.

But Polish priests aren’t just going to Britain. In recent months, more than 62 priests from the Archdiocese of Krakow left for assignments around the world, including Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Germany, Tanzania, Ukraine, and the United States.

Poland seems to be the only nation in Europe where the number of vocations is rising, accounting for one-quarter of all European applications to the seminary, reported The Guardian. Currently, Poland has 29,089 ordained priests, about 1,845 monks and 23,105 nuns.

Krakow's seminary alone currently has 240 students. The number of Poles applying to join the priesthood increased, from 4,500 in 1998 to 7,100 in 2005. Some explain the high numbers with the Church's role in the struggle against communism and the extraordinary influence of Pope John Paul II.

In contrast, in 2003, there were a total of 110 seminarians in all of Ireland and a total of 27 seminarians in England and Wales. This trend of decline repeats itself in other European countries.

In France, seminaries accepted 927 applicants in 2001, compared with 1,210 in 1991. There were no applications to join the priesthood in the French-speaking part of Switzerland in 2002.

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