This is vocations awarenesss week, so one of our focuses should be praying for more priests.
Perhaps St Mary McKillop, whose feast day it is, could aid us here!
A good news story?
There is a good news story here: over the last few years there has been a substantial upsurge of vocations in many dioceses.
But I do think some are talking it up too much: even in the dioceses that are getting vocations, the surge will need to continue for several years before there is any hope of making up for the virtual lack of any vocations at all in the desert years of the 70s and 80s experienced by most dioceses, and the consequent ageing and depletion of the stock of priests.
Then there are the dioceses - such as Adelaide, Broken Bay, Newcastle, the WA regional dioceses and others - that still have few or no vocations. And there are others, such as Perth, which show signs of a shakeout occurring due to a change of diocesan policy with a new Archbishop...
But, today a focus on the positive, a quick run down of Australia's seminaries.
New South Wales
Sydney's Good Shepherd Seminary currently has 42 men studying for the priesthood, including men from Canberra-Goulburn and a number of other dioceses. Four new priests were ordained by Cardinal Pell last week.
Parramatta's Holy Spirit Seminary currently has eleven seminarians 'associated' with it in some way.
Meanwhile New South Wales' regional powerhouse (one of only two Australian seminaries, with Perth, where seminarians actually dress as such?), Vianney College in Wagga Wagga, currently has twenty students, studying for Wagga Wagga, Lismore and Armidale dioceses.
Melbourne's Corpus Christi Seminary serves as the regional seminary for Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. It also has a few Canberrans and overseas students at the moment. In total there are 53 seminarians, with four scheduled to be ordained in September alongside a group for the Ordinariate.
The Missionaries of God's Love have also recently opened a seminary in Melbourne, and currently have thirty brothers preparing for ordination.
Brisbane's Holy Spirit Seminary, which serves the Queensland dioceses, is one of Australia's great success stories of recent years, turning around the vocations drought up north with a current 32 students (including several studying for Nigeria).
Perth's St Charles Seminary currently has 22 seminarians associated with it (including a number studying in Rome).
In theory it serves as the regional seminary, and indeed pictures of all of the WA bishops are plastered all over the homepage. But in practice there are no seminarians currently listed for dioceses other than Perth.
It should be noted though that Broome did have an ordination recently - a late vocation whose ordination constituted the seventh ordination ever for the diocese!
Australia has two Neo-Catechetical Way seminaries. Sydney's Redemptoris Mater Missionary seminary currently has 22 seminarians, and four men were ordained to the priesthood last week by Cardinal Pell. The Perth seminary is similarly thriving.
While priests of the Way can be sent anywhere in the world, they also give a couple of years service to the diocese. Of course, whether or not one supports the growth of this movement with its interestingly innovative liturgies is another matter...
It is also worth noting that some (other) Australian religious orders are flourishing at the moment.
In particular, four Capuchin Friars were ordained as deacons last week, while two Dominicans made solemn profession recently, and are preparing for their diaconal ordination.