Nearly 100 people began training for the priesthood and religious life in England and Wales last year, according to bishops’ conference figures.
The figures, assembled by the National Office for Vocation, showed that 44 people began training for the priesthood and 52 entered formation for religious life in 2013.
The overall figure of 96, which dropped slightly from the previous year’s total of 97, still represents a rise in vocations since the early to mid-2000s, when they dropped to their lowest level.
In particular, the number of entrants to religious life tripled between 2004 and 2012, from 19 to 64. Last year the figure dropped slightly to 54. The figure does not include 10 former Anglican Sisters, the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who were received into the Catholic Church on New Year’s Day.
The number of men training for the priesthood, meanwhile, rose from 33 to 44. This figure, however, is still lower than a high point of 56 in 2010.
Fr Christopher Jamison, director of the National Office for Vocation, said: “These figures highlight the generosity of Catholic women and men in responding to God’s call. They also show that the emphasis on discernment before recruitment is working. But there is no room for complacency, so for Vocations Sunday May 11 we’ve sent out posters and mini-cards to parishes and schools up and down the country asking people to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.”