Father Piotr Kot, chairman of the Conference of Rectors of Major Seminaries in Poland, reported that this year, about 15 percent fewer young men were formed in diocesan and religious seminaries than a year ago. “People are losing faith in general, and young people in particular are being put to a great test,” said the priest.
The greatest number of candidates applied to the clerical seminaries in the dioceses of Tarnów and Poznań, and to the Dominican and Pallottine Order.
On October 1, the Church in Poland entered into force the document “The Way of Formation of Priests in Poland. Ratio Institutionis Sacerdotalis Pro Polonia”, which defines new principles of priestly formation. One of the elements is the introductory stage, i.e. the time when candidates for the priesthood have appropriate conditions for dynamic spiritual, personal and intellectual development.
– It is important because during the six years of the seminar, the alumni undertake studies, and this engages them so strongly that some personal matters, important from the point of view of later life, may not fit into the educational program. Either there is no time for them, or due to the intense lifestyle in a large community, they do not show up at all “- Kot explained in an interview with PAP.
He said that “the first data collected shows that about 15 percent fewer young men were formed this year in diocesan and religious seminaries than a year ago.” “We do not have final figures yet, as some seminars have decided to enter the introductory phase and have opened up additional recruitment,” he said.
In the opinion of the chairman of the Conference of Rectors of Major Seminars, the first collected statistical data correspond to the trends that we have been observing for several years. – The most numerous seminars are in Tarnów, Poznań and Warsaw. However, this is the first year when there are no more than 20 seminarians in any diocesan seminary, he pointed out.
Last year, 438 men applied
In the last academic year 2020/2021, 438 new seminarians entered all diocesan and religious seminaries. At that time, the greatest number of candidates applied to the Higher Theological Seminary in Tarnów (26 students), to the Higher Theological Seminary in Katowice (15), and to the Metropolitan Higher Theological Seminary in Kraków and Poznań (13 each). In turn, the least willing – one each – signed up for the Higher Theological Seminaries in Drohiczyn, Gniezno and Sosnowiec. None of them came only to the seminary in the diocese of Świdnica.
This year, the largest number of candidates among male orders was to the Dominican Order (14), the Society of the Catholic Apostolate, popularly Pallottine priests, and to the Franciscan orders.
In the opinion of the chairman of the Conference of Rectors of Major Seminaries, the slightly smaller number of candidates this year “is not the result of a pandemic, but rather a measure of the dynamics of life in the faith of the entire Church community”. – The first place where vocations are formed is the family, school and parish. The image of the Church and clergy in society is also important, and in recent years a lot has changed in this field – noted Father Kot.
– If in Europe we are talking about a huge drop in vocations, it is on the one hand a consequence of secularization, but also more and more we should talk about experimental human engineering, about posthumanism, which has a problem with God’s vision of man and the world. People are losing faith in general, and young people in particular are being put to a great test, said the priest.
Main photo source: Krzysztof Świderski / PAP