Skip to comments.US Dominican Province Welcomes Its Biggest Class of Novices in Decades
Posted on 08/18/2010 9:12:13 PM PDT by marshmallow
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Statistics show a drastic fall in the number of people entering religious life since the 1960s, yet during ceremonies Aug. 7, the Dominican Province of St. Joseph formally accepted 21 men as novices -- the province's largest novitiate class since 1966.
Father Bill Garrot is the province's outgoing vocations director. He is the man who the current vocations director appointed this summer, Father Benedict Croell, said played a key role in the "harvest" that yielded the 21 novices, who received the Dominican habit during an ancient ceremony called "vestition" at St. Gertrude's Priory in Cincinnati.
In response to dismal novitiate numbers, in 2003 the Province of St. Joseph decided to hire Father Garrot as a full-time vocations director to engage in more rigorous recruitment efforts than a part-time director could.
Before Father Garrot was appointed, the province had suffered through "chaotic period" from 1993 to 2002, where the province transitioned between three or four different vocations directors and novitiate numbers were about five per year.
"This kind of woke everybody up," Father Garrot said in an interview with Catholic News Service in Washington at the New York-based province's House of Studies.
Father Garrot said those numbers rose to about eight to 10 a year during his time at the province, from 2003 to 2010. The 2009 novice class had 11 men in it, a total almost doubled in 2010.
"Stability in a vocation program does matter. I was appointed as a full-time vocations director, but not many diocese or religious orders seem to have the luxury of appointing a man to do full-time recruitment work," he said.
He admitted that his efforts have played a part in bringing such a large class to the province, but, the biggest factor has been the Dominican's theological tradition, much of which is rooted in the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas, Father Garrot said.
"There has been talk among some that the Second Vatican Council represented a break with the past and the introduction of something completely new for the church," he said. "It's a shift, there's renewal, there are graces given, the Holy Spirit works and raises up new things -- but there's still continuity here. And the Dominicans are the beneficiaries of their own continuity -- of 800 years."
In 1965, the year Vatican II ended, there were 12,271 religious brothers in the United States, compared with 4,690 in 2010, and 58,632 total priests, compared with 39,993 in 2010, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.
Despite efforts in other Catholic orders since the council to alter their own traditions and teachings with the aim of appealing to a younger, wider audience, for the Province of St. Joseph, "there was not a whole lot of toying or monkeying with the liturgy," Father Garrot said, adding that he thinks some other orders have actually hurt their recruitment efforts by straying from their tradition.
"All I can hope is that we're riding the crest of what will happen for everyone else in due time as they reclaim their tradition and settle," he said.
Communal prayer and the wearing of religious habits are traditional aspects of Dominican life, for example, that Father Garrot said attracted many of the novices, who are to take their first vows in a year.
The current vocations director, Father Croell said that the traditional attracts men because "we're living in uncertain times right now, very secular times, and there's a number of factors that young men are looking for."
"They're looking for something transcendent, they're looking for a purpose in their life -- a lot of people are searching," he said.
Aside from its size, the novitiate class is special in several others ways, according to those familiar with the novices.
Members of the class are younger than usual, ranging from ages 22-30, with an average age of 24, whereas most classes range from ages 22-42, with an average age of 27. Also, many of the novices have graduated from college within the past year. In past novitiate classes, the province has typically averaged two people who just graduated from college, but this group has 11. Father Garrot noted that overall the class is "highly educated" and mentioned that three of the men are coming to the order with doctorate degrees.
Juan Carmona, 30, a Harvard graduate, holds one of those doctorates -- in cell and developmental biology. He came to the United States from Mexico when he was 7 years old.
Carmona was attracted to the Dominicans because of "the great emphasis that they place on education and making sense of the world," he said.
"In today's world you have learning for the sake of learning and you have an empty self glorifying experience. The human person is elevated but there's no transcendent truth," he told CNS. "What (this class) has in common is a great desire to serve the church and a great desire to really help souls and a great passion for learning the truths of the faith and teaching that to people."
Santiago Rosado, 22, studied theology at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. He became interested in the priesthood in high school, but where he was, there were no men religious to serve as an example, he said. After considering life as a diocesan priest, Rosado decided that belonging to a religious community was preferable to "being alone in a parish."
Like Carmona, he was attracted to fraternal life.
"Having those brothers there as resources and support was something that initially attracted me," he said.
He met a Dominican priest studying for his doctorate at Notre Dame who encouraged him to join the Dominicans. Rosado was already familiar with the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas from his studies and found himself pulled by the "diversity of thought" within the Dominican intellectual tradition.
Michael Weibley, 22, graduated from Walsh University in Ohio in May before becoming a Dominican novice.
He said for his first few years at Walsh, he "fell away from his faith." College life, including academics, "a lot of partying" and being on the baseball team, were all distractions from his faith he said. That was until toward the end of this sophomore year he realized he wasn't really happy and began looking for what was going to make him happy in life.
"I started asking the hard questions," he said.
Weibley, who was raised Catholic, found himself returning to the church.
He said being on his university baseball team helped him draw parallels to the fraternal life of a Dominican friar and drew him to picking up a vocation. He was also pulled by the traditional aspects of Dominican life.
"The province really does what the church asks. They do what the Dominicans have taught to do throughout the years," he said.
As the lavender gang and pedophiles are flushed from the priesthood and seminaries are brought under control, we’re going to see more stories like this.
God bless them all.
This collection of "seminary" threads tells the story. The most recent, of course, is at the top. The pattern is very apparent, at least to me.
Cardinal Arinze - "Youth will embrace religious life with right role models"
Today's seminarians reflect growing trend
Number of Seminarians Increases - Please Decipher This!!!!
In Seminaries, New Ways for a New Generation
Seminary Springtime: Father Darrin Connall s Big Success
EVIDENCE GROWS OF DIRECT DISOBEDIENCE TO VATICAN IN MAJOR AMERICAN SEMINARIES
Pope to Church: Risky Seminarians Must Go
Priests Down, Seminarians Up
U.S. Priests and seminarians survey: more vocations in orthodox dioceses
Vatican Announces Surge in Seminaries during JPII Pontificate
Seminary Reform Needed in Wake of Sex Abuse Study ["the crisis in the Church is ... homosexuality"]
Homosexuals in seminaries? The latest.....
Priests 'In Orgy' at Seminary
Bishop urges gay ban in clergy; presses for overhaul in screening priests
A New Breed of Priest
AUSTRIAN SEMINARY SHUT DOWN FOR PROBE
Seminarians Show Support For Celibacy
556 Reasons for Hope [Seminarians Support Celibacy]
No Shortage of Vocations From Conservative Parishes
Oakland seminary housing sex offender priests
Phoenix bishop to helm Priestly Formation Committee [of USCCB]
Vatican Firms up Plans for U.S. Seminary Visitation in 2005
SIBLING VOCATIONS - Early calls led two sisters to same religious order
On the admission of homosexuals to seminaries
Catholic priests demand the right to marry
New Start For Austrian Seminary
Disciples of Pope John Paul (Faculty of Gregorian University Gripe About Piety of New Seminarians)
New Priests in U.S.: Older, and More >From Abroad (Survey Tracks Trends Since 1998)
U.S. seminarians welcome Pope Benedict XVI
Vatican review of seminaries to raise issue of gay priests
Some Decry Retirement Despite Priest Shortage
The Priesthood Ordination Class of 2005 People would be surprised to know that I
(Catholic) Seminarians Double In 25 Years
Pope's death inspires would-be priests
Changes Add Up for Priesthood
Irish Bishops Apologize to Seminary Whistle-Blower
SIGNAL CALLING - UB quarterback foregoes family and career to train for priesthood in Rome
Pop Culture Heros Help Recruit Priests
Small Bible-belt (Catholic) diocese sees increase in seminarians
Dashing young priests turn heads at Youth Day
Vatican to Start U.S. Seminary Evaluations
Apostolic Seminary Visitation To Begin This Fall
U.S. Bishops to Begin Inspecting Seminaries
Prelate Says Gays Shouldn't Be Ordained
American overseeing Vatican evaluation of US seminaries says gays should not be ordained
Vatican to Check U.S. Seminaries on Gay Presence
POPE APPROVES BARRING GAY SEMINARIANS
Pope bans homosexuals from ordination as priests
Questions Arise Over Seminary Inspections
New Vatican Rule Said to Bar Gays as New Priests
New Vatican Rule Said to Bar Gays as New Priests (ABOUT TIME)
VATICAN: HOMOSEXUALS ARE NOT TO BE ORDAINED AS CATHOLIC PRIESTS
Homosexuals in the seminary; A Global Church in a Globalized World
Gay Men Ponder Impact of (Anti-Gay Clergy)Proposal by Vatican(Barf Alert)
Aquinas Seminary is First for Scrutiny
Vatican Begins Inspections At St. Louis Seminary (Rector: No homosexuality-pedophilia link)
The Sins of the Seminaries
Notre Dame Experts React to Potential Seminary Rules
Seminary Reviews Not Just About Homosexuality, Says Prelate
Jesuit Official Rips Expected Ban on Gays
Jesuit Official Rips Expected Ban on Gays
Jesuit official protesting expected Vatican ban on gay priests
A Catholic Moment of Truth
Gay Catholics Angry Over Seminary Searches
New Rules Affirm Pope Benedict's Stance Against Gays
New Report on Vatican Gay Priests Document Said to be Gay Lobby Rumor Mill
Gay men can be priests if celibate
Gay men can be Catholic priests if celibate-paper
No ban on gays expected in Vatican document; will advise 'prudential judgement'
African Cardinal Views the Vocation Shortage - With Full Seminaries, Ghana Shares Its Wealth
Keep the Ban
Today's seminarians: The Vatican survey
Lincoln diocese boasts highest number of priests to Catholics
Vatican Document on homosexuals in seminaries will be published tomorrow
Married Priests Arent the Answer (a seminarian states his view)
Vatican document restricts gays in priesthood: paper
Barring gays from priesthood not discrimination, say Italian bishops
Roman Women are Converts to Convents
Heads Up!! Zero Hour is 9am on December 29
Why I Thank God I Couldnt Be A Priest
A look inside the Denver seminaries
Ordination Challenges: Out of the Seminary, Into the Fire
Vatican teams checking seminary effectiveness (in all, 229 US seminaries to be reviewed)
Seminaries Are Overflowing in Socialist Vietnam
Seminaries Full in Southern India (despite new anti-conversion law)
Ordination Class of 2006 - New Catholic Priests include twins, converts and some surprises
Twin ordinands, youngest of 13, credit parents for priestly vocations
Eleven new priests for Denver, largest ordination class in 40 years
Religious vocations can come from anyplace
Coordinator of U.S. seminary visitations expects report this fall
The Dem’s had a much larger class of “novices” in 2008....
It will be interesting to see how many make it all the way through. The class which just made simple profession had a survival rate of about 40%.
I DO think this says something about the current societal and moral chaos tending to make the Church seem more attractive by contrast.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.