One month before Pope Francis’s visit to the US, it has emerged that the number of men joining seminaries in Philadelphia has more than trebled this year.
Bishop Timothy Senior, rector of St Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, said that his school had welcomed 20 men from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia at the beginning of this week’s academic year, compared with 6 last year.
Bishop Senior said: “It is the highest number of priestly vocations in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 10 years.”
On top of the 20 new seminarians from Philadelphia an additional 32 new seminarians from other archdioceses and religious orders also entered the seminary, amounting to a 21% overall increase in seminarians.
Bishop Senior said: “Many have asked why we’re seeing this increase. Is it the so-called Francis Effect? Is it the millennials’ interest in service? I believe it’s all these things.”
He added: “People understand that you are inspired by Pope Francis, so there’s a greater chance that a young man who says ‘I want to become a priest’ will be encouraged by people who see in Francis the goodness and the authentic truth that is associated with the Catholic Church.”
Bishop Senior also highlighted that four of the seminarians from Philadelphia were Vietnamese. He said: “This diversity is important so that our priests can reflect the increasing diversity of our people. That being said, we’ve got a ways to go on this.”
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