Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 15, 2003
Seminary sees minor 'blip' in enrollment
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Like the stock market, it is not the peaks and valleys to watch but the growth trend, says Father Shayne Craig.
As vice-rector at St. Joseph Seminary, the training centre of choice for priests in Western Canadian dioceses, Craig knows not to be swayed by yearly changes in the numbers. Instead, sustainability is derived from a focus on the long term.
While he admits seminary enrollment numbers are down slightly this year compared with 2002, he sees it as only a small blip.
"We have a total of 30 seminarians this year, being 24 in-house with six out in their internships in Edmonton, St. Boniface or Winnipeg, Prince Albert and Victoria," he said.
"Over the years, enrollment goes up and down. We have a few less than last year (41 in total) where 30 were in-house. But a number did not continue on after last year."
Making enrollment comparisons to other dioceses and seminaries for 2003 is difficult, Craig says, when there are unknown influences on the reasoning people enroll or leave.
"But the trend is going up. Our numbers have increased greatly over the past number of years. For example, when I was ordained in 1992, we had a huge year. I think there were nine of us. So the numbers were down for a couple of years because the class sizes were smaller. But they picked right back up again."
In the past 10 years, enrollment has gone from about 15 seminarians up to 35. Two years ago, there were nine deacons at the seminary who went on to become priests.
When you have a big class like that and they all leave, Craig says, the numbers will go down for awhile.
"I think our numbers have been up the past few years because the vocation directors and the dioceses have been very active in promotion of the priesthood. It helps the men to discern this as a possibility for their lives. I think the dioceses have paid renewed attention to this."
The dedication of personnel and resources has made a big difference, Craig says based upon 16 years of experience around the seminary in various capacities.
"One of the changes I've noticed is seeing the priesthood as an essential ministry within the Church which fosters the growth of all the Church. Not seeing opposition to lay ministry or the involvement of lay people in the life of the Church.
"I think the whole climate for priestly vocation and formation is very different than what it was say, 15 years ago when I think we tended to see 'either/or': Either you fostered the priesthood or you fostered lay vocations and lay ministries.
"I don't think we think that way anymore," he said.