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England and Wales to see sharp rise in ordinations

Men ordained to the diaconate in Westminster Cathedral (Photo: Mazur)

The number of priestly ordinations across England and Wales is expected to almost double by 2013, while the number of seminarians in the Archdiocese of Southwark alone has more than doubled since 2005.

Figures show that the number of ordinations in England and Wales is expected to reach 38 in 2013, compared with 20 in 2011, while the Archdiocese of Southwark currently has 26 seminarians in contrast with only 10 in 2005.

The Southwark Vocations website states that a “campaign of prayer for vocations has coincided with a dramatic increase in the number of men coming forward as potential candidates for the priesthood”.

Fr Stephen Langridge, vocations director for the archdiocese, said that since being appointed part-time in 2005 his team had introduced a range of initiatives to encourage vocations throughout the archdiocese.

Fr Langridge said: “We have produced prayer cards for the rosary, of which 40,000 have gone out”, as well as “encouraging all parishes to hold Holy Hours of prayer for vocations”.

He explained that parishes across the archdiocese offer at least one Holy Hour a year, while others, such as Our Lady of the Annunciation church in Addiscombe, south London, hold prayer hours for vocations on a weekly or even daily basis.

Fr Langridge also cited the Quo Vadis discernment group as another significant initiative, and a summer pilgrimage offering support for young people as they discern God’s will in their lives.

Fr Langridge said the diocese had “moved from a model of recruitment to discernment”, emphasising that all young Catholics have a vocation and must be “encouraged to become better disciples of Christ”.

Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark appointed Fr Langridge as full-time director of vocations for the archdiocese earlier this month. It is the first time in 30 years that this has been a full-time post.

The appointment follows the launch of the National Vocations Framework, which has been adopted by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales to “promote a culture of vocation”.

Fr Langridge will take up the full-time post in September.

The Archdiocese of Southwark covers all boroughs in south London, the whole county of Kent and the Medway Unitary Authority.