Vocations: June 2013 Archives

Mauro Card. Piacenza.jpg

Seminarians get a letter from Mauro Cardinal Piacenza, Prefect of Congregation for the Clergy for the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, advocating the need for the daily dialogue --the salvific meeting (an encounter)-- with the Lord which builds a beautiful edifice of life and love. 

The cardinal highlights Pope Francis' idea that in the priestly life there is a primacy of grace: a joy of bearing the cross of Jesus Christ, without which the priest is a mere functionary, not a disciple following a path cut out by the Lord --and, today, the Church-- that is certain and life-giving. Only in the cross do we see the self-giving nature of God the Son; the lack of an embrace of the cross contributes to worldliness, secularism, the primacy of the self as the measure of all things.

Highlighted, too, is the faithfulness and thus dependence upon the proven tools of the spiritual life: silence, discernment, sacraments, spiritual direction, human and theological formation. Of course, all this demands that the formators in seminaries aren't dysfunctional and ideological.

For more about the formation of men to be priests is a book written by the Most Reverend Massimo Camisasca, FSCB, The Challenge of Fatherhood (Human Adventure Books).


On the solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we celebrate most significantly the day for the sanctification of priests and, as you are in the Seminary to respond in the most fitting way possible to your vocation, it is important for me to send you this letter, with great affection, so that you may feel involved and, as such, remember this important occasion.

Ignatius Loyola
Statistics are not that interesting unless you're bean counter. Even then the numbers don't account for everything that's happening in the Church and in a group. Admittedly, there needs to be room for the work of the Holy Spirit.

Having said all this, if you want to see how culture and theology are working together --or not-- you need to look at the numbers. There is a claim that the largest order of men in the Church is the Society of Jesus, founded in 1540; if you bring together the various Franciscan groups of men they'd likely outnumber the Jesuits.

Several years ago Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach said that looking at the original charism of the Society the vocation to be a Jesuit was given to very few men. In the course of history, and for particular reasons, the Society exploded in numbers surpassing expectation and control. And yet, there has been a tremendous amount of good done through Ignatian spirituality, but there has been a demonstrable chaos wreaked by the same. It looks as though the chaos is lessening but it will take another generation or two for a more authentic living of the charism of Saint Ignatius and the first Jesuits to be fully lived again.

To give you a sense of the scope of the Jesuits worldwide consider this information for today:

  • There are 83 provinces, 6 Independent Regions and 10 Dependent Regions;
  • Roman Houses (including the Jesuit curia) 403;
  • As of 1 January 2013, the total number of Jesuits was 17,287: 12,298 priests, 1,400 brothers, 2,878 scholastics, and 711 novices - a net loss of 337 members from 1 January 2012.
Compare total numbers in the USA:

2012: 2547
2013: 2467

Compare total numbers worldwide:

1974: 29,436
1984: 25,724
1994: 23,179
2004: 20,408
2013: 17,287
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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.



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This page is a archive of entries in the Vocations category from June 2013.

Vocations: May 2013 is the previous archive.

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