Last October, the Religious News Service, published a story that said that there were 3,200 Catholics per priest.
Imagine the day when you show up for Mass and there is not a priest to perform the Liturgy? What would you do? The problem is by this time it is too little too late. The real problem has to be corrected now and it can be corrected by you.
Now, that I have your attention you might think, how can I solve the priest shortage? I am just a layperson. The actual solution can easily be solved by you and you alone.
The concept is simple, where does the supply of priests come from if they do not come from laypeople? In essence, there is a direct relationship between lowering numbers of vocations and lowering numbers of people attending church.
Today there are large numbers of teenagers who have been baptized but never received their first communion or confirmation. These people may have quit attending Church at a very early age. Many of these people may be culturally Catholic yet now attend another type of church. The stories are different but the results are the same, these people could have been willing to accept a call for a vocation if they were properly trained to hear that call.
In 2015, The Pew Research Center did a study on Cultural Catholics. They found:
- 60% of the people who identify as Culturally Catholic say they have a relationship with Jesus Christ or a belief in him.
- 59% Believe in helping the poor
- 57% Believe that Jesus Christ was resurrected
This study concluded that about 20% of the population of the United States was Catholic, 9% are Culturally Catholic, 8% are Lapsed Catholics, and 8% had other connections to the Catholic Church. Making a total of 45% of the people of the United States have some sort of tie or relationship to the Church.
This study shows a pattern that many people take:
- They are active in Church
- They attend Church regularly
- They partake in the Sacraments
- Something happens and they stop going to Church regularly
- They stop taking an active interest in the Church
- Soon their attendance goes from regular to irregular to nonexistent
Now, imagine, with this COVID 10 Pandemic and subsequent shutdowns, how will this impact the current crisis of vocations? In a Dec.09, 2020 interview, Dan Cellucci, CEO of the Catholic Leadership Institute, a lay group that helps bishops and parish priests sustain their parishes, is in a good position to understand what was at stake for Catholics during the Covid-19 pandemic. CLI is constantly gathering data on the Catholic Church's depressive trend, especially in the West, in Mass attendance and the number of parishioners. “This pandemic has led to the acceleration of so many trend lines we were already on.”
These trends include:
- Parishioners are 11 times more likely to recommend their parish if they recommend their pastor.
- Younger Catholics have shown themselves to be particularly unattached to the physical presence of the church and individuals, choosing instead to find faith communities online.
- About 10% of the respondents said that they go to Mass mostly out of habit. Cellucci questions whether this group's habit will survive a long period in which Masses have been prohibited or discouraged.
- The survey concluded that people don’t trust in the teaching authority of the church (52%), or never go to Confession (30%) or don’t believe that the church is crucial for their faith (47%).
What does this mean? What will happen? These are two very good questions and the answer actually lies within you. We need the Church and the Church needs us. You can not be a Catholic online, you must be Catholic in the pews. You can not be culturally Catholic or lapsed Catholic- you are Catholic. We are in spiritual warfare here as real as any war in the history of mankind. Brother and sisters, we know in our hearts what we need to do, now we must just do it. God created us to be his players not his benchwarmers. We must now begin to accept the responsibilities of helping out at the local parish. The work goes on but it will go on better with you and me.
Bishop Fulton Sheen explained it this way in 1948, “[Satan] will set up a counter church which will be the ape of the [Catholic] Church. . . . It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content.”
We are in a spiritual war and I would like to ask what side are you on? Who are you helping?
After answering these questions, you should be ready to answer the call of a vocation and it is only through strong vocations and strong families, that we will have a strong Church. Amen.