I am told by a priest of the diocese that in Westminster diocese there are no ordinations to the diocesan priesthood this year but apparently -according to the com-box there are seven however in Buenos Aires, this year has only three, my own diocese has only two seminarians spread over the whole six year course, some diocese have no seminarians, some diocese have far more bishops (active and retired) than seminarians..
But my own rather odd little parish, 'least of the cities of Judah', prays regularly for three men who came here to Mass and were very much part of our parish. One is at one of our English Oratories, another has joined one of the Traditional priestly societies and yet another has joined the most ascetic monasteries in Britain.
One of the things that attracted these young men here is Old Mass, all three came to it, all three had a great love for it. It does seem to be a source of vocations. As one teen age lad said, "I don't understand a word of it but at least it gives you a chance to pray". Prayer, communion with Christ is the source of vocation.
Personally I found it easier to speak to young men about priesthood when Pope Benedict so often spoke about the great value and the significance of the priesthood and the Sacred Liturgy. Now, there seems to so many warnings to young priests, so much criticism of young priests, even suggestion they might be mentally ill, it makes it far less attractive, perhaps there is sense that maybe young men considering the priesthood might be better off being tender hearted social workers, rather than servants of the altar.
One of the things that is at the back of mind is that young men are certainly not choosing the secular or diocesan priesthood though some religious orders aren't doing too badly, especially those with something of traditional about them. The traditional Mass priestly societies are flourishing, and some religious orders are making steady progress, this year the Irish Dominican province had more ordinations than all the Irish diocese put together. I think as we grow older, we secular clergy become increasingly unattractive to young men, there is something of the smell of the geriatric ward about us. Like attracts like. In fifteen years time half the present diocesan clergy of England and Wales will be incapable of saying Mass, most of us will dead or in a home! In France, for most people it will be easier in ten years time to get to the Traditional Mass than the Novus Ordo. I think many of us secular priests have a sense failure about them, whilst young religious communities have a sense of mission and growth, a hopefulness about them. I was speaking to a young SSPX priest some time ago, he was full of hope and spoke about the development of their mission about rising numbers, he had an almost charismatic sense of excitement about him.
For all the rather sad holding on to the 1970s of some of the most senior clergy this is not where the Church will be in ten years time.
photographs from here