St. Paul, Minn. -- The St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity at the University of St. Thomas welcomes 33 new men into the seminary this fall. That is the largest class in three decades. Every dorm room on the seminary's campus is now full, and it has church leaders full of hope.
"It's wonderful because it shows life and vitality and that's what our church especially needs; to grow," Monsignor Aloysius Callaghan of the Seminary said. "The whole world and our local church have been praying for more priests," he explained.
A Catholic priest shortage has been widely reported. The U.S. Conference of Bishops reports 82 percent of dioceses have fewer priests relative to their needs.
When Callaghan arrived at The St. Paul Seminary six years ago there were 59 students. After this year's boom in enrollment, he is now presiding over a college of 92 seminarians from all over the Midwest, not to mention parts of Africa and Peru. "They're just enthusiastic. Right now they're unpacking so that's a bit of a distraction but as soon as they hit the ground, they hit the ground running," the Monsignor explained.
The students are all carefully screened college graduates who will spend four more years in school before they're ordained as priests. When they're ready, there will be plenty of work for them. The church, Callaghan says, is working on a new program to place priests in the areas they're most needed in.
We asked the Monsignor why he's seeing a spike in seminarians. He says there is no simple answer. "At a time when both in our country and in the world there's a certain unsettled... how would you say difficulty or turbulence that's gnawing at the very heart of what society is. Here are men that really want to tell them what's really at the heart of this society," Callaghan remarked.
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