Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 26, 1999
APC urged to promote priestly vocations
Former chair says council should take the initiative
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
The Archdiocesan Pastoral Council should lead an initiative to spur more vocations to the priesthood, says the council's past chairman.
George Lucas told the council April 17 a public media advertising campaign could be part of a thrust to encourage more men to join the priesthood.
"I think this council needs to head up an initiative to coordinate this kind of program in our diocese," Lucas said during the council's lengthy discussion on religious vocation.
Lucas suggested an advertising campaign for vocations similar to one he saw in Chicago in 1994.
"On the side of this bus was an ad of a priest that said 'Good guys do wear black'," Lucas said. "This was a vocation program that was going on in the seminary there."
Such advertising, which included flyers, brochures and buttons, would be a means of informing not only potential seminarians but also the public of the local resources and support for a priestly calling, said Lucas.
The decline in vocations has bothered Lucas for the past couple of years. His initiation of the vocation discussion within the council was triggered when he met a family at a retreat who were concerned about a lack of information for parents of potential seminarians.
"Our last initiative was to deal with ToPs (Transformation of Parishes) - that's being taken care of," Lucas said. "We need to move on. Vocation is something we have to look into now."
Lucas will continue to ask for vocations to be on the agenda at the council's future meetings.
"We need to talk about it, so it will be alive," he said. "From (the discussions), the council can take initiative on what it wants to do. We have to keep this talk going."
In the last 25 years, the Edmonton Archdiocese has ordained only 15 priests. In 1962 alone, there were 12.
"That was the last big class in this diocese," said Msgr. John Hamilton, who was ordained that year.
The declining number of priests in the Edmonton Archdiocese is not news for most parishioners. Last year's Faithful Into the Future report on parish restructuring proposed the closure or merging of dozens of parishes mainly to accommodate the dwindling number of active priests.
The ToPs report has fanned the vocation talks.
"Ireland is among the most Catholic countries in Europe, if not the world," Hamilton said. "Last year, the Archdiocese of Dublin announced it had not one single person enter the seminary. This is happening all over the world.
"What's the reason for this? I don't know."
Neither did other APC members.
No one could pinpoint the exact cause for the lack of vocations, nor were there concrete initiatives put forward.
Several churches have set aside days to pray for vocations. Many parishes pray a vocations prayer after the Apostles' Creed at Sunday Mass.
Archbishop Joseph MacNeil suggested not relying solely on parishes to promote vocations.
"Most schools have career days," MacNeil said. "Few if any focus in on vocations at all. I think we should set up a way of setting something like that up."