From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

National reports indicate lower average age of diocesan seminarians

by Sister Mary Ann Walsh, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

(From the Oct. 3, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)

WASHINGTON More than 3,400 men are studying for the diocesan priesthood in the United States this academic year, according to reports from dioceses nationwide.

The men include students in college-level seminaries and those in theologates, post-graduate level studies.

The number does not include men studying for Religious orders, which account for almost a third of the total number of priests in the country.

Anecdotal reports indicate that after a recent history of older seminarians, the average age of those entering now appears to be lower.

In the Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania, which has 22 seminarians, the five new men entering the college level seminary are either 18 or 19 years old.
The Archdiocese of Atlanta has more men in the college level seminary than ever before.
The Diocese of Boise, Idaho, notes that this year it welcomes 10 new men, six of whom just finished high school and that the diocese already has five high school seniors interested in the seminary next year.
In the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, of the eight new seminarians this year, six are in their 20s, one in his 30s, and one is in his 40s.

Many dioceses note an increasing number of men studying for the priesthood.

The Diocese of Spokane, with 18 men, has the most seminarians since 1998. The diocese accepted nine new seminarians for the 2002-2003 year, the largest number in recent memory.
The Diocese of Orlando, Fla., has 19 men studying for the priesthood, the largest number since 1995.
The Archdiocese of Washington has 15 men entering the seminary, three at college level and 12 at theology level, the largest number since the early 80s.
The Austin Diocese also saw its largest number of new seminarians this fall, with 16 men beginning formation and joining 17 others already in the formation program.
The Diocese of Rockford, Ill., expects to ordain 11 men in the spring, the second largest number in the history of the diocese.
The Diocese of Wichita has 34 seminarians, the largest group since 1980.
The Diocese of Columbus, Ohio, with 22 seminarians, also has its largest number in recent years.

Backgrounds vary.

John Raia, one of 35 candidates for the Diocese of Austin, Texas, has just finished a degree in the honors program at the University of Texas.
Jeremy Aranda, 22, one of 56 men studying for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, recently graduated from St. Louis University and was a youth minister in Ascension Parish in Chesterfield, Mo.
New seminarians in the Bridgeport Diocese range from 18 to 38 years of age. They include Rodhmir Labadie, 18, a second generation Haitian American who recently graduated from the local Jesuit high school in Fairfield, Conn; Jim Coniers, 21, a recent honors graduate from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he was a varsity athlete and president of the Catholic Newman Club on campus; Dave Gordon, 32, who ran his own executive placement firm for high tech personnel in Stamford, Conn.; and Ian Jeremiah, 38, a native of Malaysia who has been in the United States for 12 years and who holds an MBA degree from Columbia University. Jeremiah has been a private accountant and investment consultant in Manhattan.

Some have a history of significant life accomplishments.

Ron Kendzierski, 34, and one of seven men studying for the Diocese of Gaylord, Mich., was born blind. He has played the violin since age four and is an Eagle Scout. Ron grew up in conventional settings and has never been in a special school for the blind.
Joseph Fitzgerald, 31, studying for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y., competed in handball in the Atlanta Olympics.

Several seminarians have come from outside the United States.

Fernando Barrera, 24, was born and raised in Antigua, Colombia. He studied in the seminary there before transferring to the Diocese of Stockton, Calif., and is a student at St. Patrick Seminary, Menlo Park, Calif.

In Austin, which serves a diverse population, several of the new candidates were born outside the United States and came to Central Texas with families. The Diocese of Las Cruces, N.M., is looking at five possible candidates from Mexico and Costa Rica.

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