If you have been reading about the situation in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, you have seen that they are in a process of yoking their parishes into groups, with a single parish acting as the center. Presently there are 208 parishes in the Archdiocese who will be united into 60 “families of parishes,” which will begin sharing priests and resources next year. Eventually these will become 60 parishes. One of the most important driving forces in this reorganization is the shortage of priests.
The Diocese of Covington is not in as dire a situation as Cincinnati is now facing, but if trends continue as they are, within a few years we, too, will be faced with a radical shortage of priests, which will mean that something drastic will need to be done in order to provide Mass and the other Sacraments to the Catholic people.
We need more priests. I do not look forward to being 90 years old and being pastor of all of Covington. I am not sure how I would pull that off.
There are many factors that have created the priest shortage. One is that couples are having smaller families. It used to be that priesthood was encouraged within many families, especially blue collar families, because it was a way for one of the sons to get a college education. There was also a sense of pride in having a priest in the family. If a couple is only having one or two kids, they want grandchildren, so they are not going to encourage their sons to consider the priesthood.
Certainly, the sexual abuse crisis has made young men not choose to enter into the priesthood, because every priest and every seminarian is considered suspect today.
Young people in general are falling more and more away from the Church, so they would not ever consider the priesthood.
We cannot fix all of these, and other factors, immediately. They will require a lot of prayer, and much discernment and hard work to resolve. So what can we do right now.
Pray! Pray! Pray! Pray for vocations to the priesthood. As Jesus said, “Ask the harvest master to send laborers into the field.” Pray for priests and seminarians, that they will be good and holy men of God and that they will receive the education and formation that they need to serve the people of God well. Pray for men who are being called by God to be priests, that they will listen to that call and will find the courage and support that they need in order to say yes.
Specifically, today I am asking that you also generously support the Diocesan Seminarian Fund. This fund pays for the education of the men studying for the priesthood. They are not allowed to work because the studies and the formation programs do not allow for time to do so.
Thank you for your generosity.
–Fr. Mike Comer