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Continued growth in diocesan seminary numbers

Australian seminaries are reporting a steady increase in numbers in the years since recruitment reached rock-bottom in 1996.

Sydney's Good Shepherd Seminary Rector Bishop Julian Porteous told AD2000 that there are now 42 students in residence, the largest number for many years. This includes a 2005 intake of ten for the Archdiocese of Sydney, as well as one candidate for Canberra-Goulburn, one for Wollongong and another for a Burmese diocese.

Good Shepherd Seminary in Sydney is under the jurisdiction of Cardinal George Pell. The other two dioceses covering parts of the Sydney metropolitan area - Parramatta and Broken Bay - make their own arrangements and have no candidates currently residing at the Good Shepherd Seminary.

Within the Sydney Archdiocese, the recently established Redemptoris Mater Sydney (or Archdiocesan Missionary seminary), operated by the the Neocatechumenate, with 50 missionary seminaries worldwide, has 16 seminarians for 2005.

Elsewhere in NSW, Vianney College in the Wagga Wagga Diocese continues to attract recruits for the priesthood. This year there are at least seven seminarians in training for the diocese. Since its founding in 1992 by Bishop Brennan, the seminary has contributed 25 priests, most of whom are serving in the Wagga Wagga Diocese. Wagga Wagga enjoys the best ratio of priests to Catholic population in the country and has the youngest average age for its priests.

In Perth, the St Charles Seminary has 22 students for 2005, five of whom are new. Of the 22 students, three are for the Diocese of Geraldton and the remainder for the Archdiocese of Perth.

In Melbourne, where major reforms to priestly formation at Corpus Christi College took place in late 1996, numbers have continued to increase, with ten new seminarians entering for 2005 - all for the Melbourne Archdiocese.

The former Director of Vocations in Melbourne, Fr Paul Stuart, told The Australian that the average age of incoming students was "getting younger" at "around 27" with some being "school leavers or just out of university". Significantly, Fr Stuart pointed out: "These new seminarians are different in that they seem to have fewer problems with the authority of the Church."

AD2000 comments that if present trends continue, "the steady influx of young, orthodox priests will have a significant and beneficial impact on the character of the Catholic Church in Australia during coming decades".

Pictured: Seminary of the Good Shepherd, Sydney - Fr Peter Dwyer, Director of First Year, with new First Year seminarians Phan Dinh Nguyen (Syd), Patrick Mara (Syd), Yoon-Jae Seo (Syd), Bryan Wilden (Syd), Peter Kwak (Syd), Greg Morgan (Syd), Nicholas Rynne (Syd), Thuc Van Le (Syd), Pio Jang (Syd), Duane Fernandez (W'gong), Luke Verrell (Can/Gburn)

Australian diocesan seminary numbers continue to increase (AD2000 March 2005)

LINKS (not endorsed by Church Resources)
OzVocations: Life choices for Catholics
Vocations to the Priesthood (Archdiocese of Adelaide)
Catholic Priesthood (Archdiocese of Brisbane) | Holy Spirit Seminary
Vocations (Archdiocese of Hobart)
Catholic Vocations (Archdiocese of Melbourne) | Corpus Christi Seminary
Vocations (Archdiocese of Perth) | St Charles Seminary
Vocations Centre (Archdiocese of Sydney) | Good Shepherd Seminary

Pope asks for prayer and support for vocations (CathNews 12/1/05)
Clergy Commission head says priest drought overstated (CathNews 2/12/04)

Increase in numbers for seminaries (CathNews 13/1/05)
Clergy Commission head says priest drought overstated (CathNews 2/12/04)
Sydney seminary head claims vocations "worst is over" (CathNews 16/4/03)
Vocation Centre invokes spirit and place (CathNews 23/1/03)
A seminarian's perspective (CathNews 2/1/03)
Pope says standards must be maintained during vocations crisis (CathNews 29/5/02)
Pope says seminarians who finds chastity difficult should forget priesthood (CathNews 18/3/02)

The Seminary of the Good Shepherd Welcomes New Seminarians for 2005 (Seminary of the Good Shepherd, Archdiocese of Sydney)
Deacon's 'heroic' decision (Catholic Leader 13/5/05)
Liberal and weak clergy blamed for empty pews (The Times 5/3/05)

11 Mar 2005