July 7, 2014 — Twelve of the 19 Jesuit priests ordained in the U.S. this summer attended Catholic colleges, highlighting a trend found in a new Boston College study, “College Experience and Priesthood.”
According to the study, men who pursue vocations to the priesthood are likely to have been encouraged by a priest and are more likely to have attended a Catholic college or university. Students at these universities encountered priests as professors and had more access to Masses and spiritual directors, compared to those who attended a non-Catholic college.
Boston College, along with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, interviewed more than 1,500 seminarians and recently-ordained men across the United States for the study. Other key findings: 350,000 never-married Catholic men have “very seriously” considered the priesthood, a figure much higher than previously reported.
In light of these results, the report calls for greater cooperation and communication among members of the church community to encourage vocations to the priesthood. The study provides specific recommendations for developing a stronger “culture of vocations” on college campuses, such as encouraging more priests, brothers and sisters to teach courses; building more vibrant and welcoming campus ministry programs; offering more opportunities for spiritual direction; and increasing outreach to non-Catholic campuses.
Newly-ordained Jesuit Father Quentin Dupont joined the Society of Jesus as a direct result of his experience at Santa Clara University, where Jesuits live in dorms side by side with students. "Seeing those guys in the dorms and how happy and welcoming they were — that was huge,” he said. Jesuit Fathers Michael Rozier and Mario Powell, also ordained this June, came to know the Jesuits through their undergraduate years at Saint Louis University and Boston College, respectively. To provide an alternative way to get to know the Jesuits, the vocations website of the Society of Jesus in the United States features interactive conversational videos with Jesuit priests and brothers.
“There is nothing as powerful as happy, fulfilled priests and religious. That is contagious. That attracts,” wrote Boston College president, Jesuit Father William P. Leahy, in the report. “We, as a group, need to live in hope and with faith … It is critical that every diocese, archdiocese, or religious community have a strategic plan for fostering and promoting vocations.” [Source: Boston College]