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Surge in enrollments noted at some US seminaries despite flat nationwide numbers

While the overall trend of declining seminarian enrollment in the United States has been ongoing for decades, there are some dioceses that are experiencing a surge in enrollment, suggesting a potential turnaround in certain regions. The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University has reported a continuation of the long-term decline in priestly vocations, with the number of men studying for the priesthood decreasing from over 6,400 in 1970 to 2,759 in the current academic year. This decline has also been observed in seminarian enrollment at the college and high school levels over the same period. This trend of decreasing priests and seminarians has been seen globally as well. However, some seminaries and dioceses are reporting an increase in the number of seminarians entering priestly formation in recent years.

National Catholic Register reports:

Seminarian enrollment in the United States has been on a decades long decline as fewer young men seek out the priesthood and the number of active priests in the U.S. continues to dwindle. But some dioceses are reporting a notable surge in enrollment, signaling a potential turnaround in some regions.

Annual data from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, released in June of this year, showed “a continuation of relatively slow long-term decline” in priestly vocations at the pre-theology and theology levels, falling from more than 6,400 men in 1970 to 2,759 in the most recent academic year.

Similar sharp drops have been observed in both college- and high school-level seminarian enrollment over the same time period. In recent years the decline in priests and seminarians has been observed globally as well.

Yet some seminary and diocesan officials told CNA that the number of seminarians they have in training for the priesthood has increased in recent years.

Father Joe Taphorn, the rector of St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in Minneapolis, said the school’s current class of seminarians is the largest of his nearly five-year tenure there.

“That first fall, we had 77 seminarians,” Father Taphorn told CNA. “We’ll probably be at just over 100 this fall. And that’s basically almost full. We’re kind of nearing capacity.”

Read the full article here.

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