We are all familiar with the Vocations Prayer we recite after our intercessions. It is a good prayer and we do need to pray for vocations. We do need more priests. But I advise people to be careful for what you pray for. What do you mean by that? It depends on the intention of your prayer. If you are praying for a priest for every church then we might be hurting our churches. If we had a priest for every church we might be closing our churches faster than we think.
Let’s consider a typical church. Most of our churches are about 150 registered families. They are cluster with other churches sharing a priest. A typical church that size has a budget of about $150,000. A portion of this budget, usually about 10% (about $15,000) goes to the primary church of the cluster where the bills are paid and priests and staff salaries are reimbursed. If this church had a priest and a secretary that would increase that $15,000 to almost $70,000. An increase of $55,000. If each church had to take on an additional $50,000 of expenses it would not be long before they would run out savings.
I would propose we have enough priests if everyone lived in a metro area. Today priests run from church to church to celebrate mass for 50, 70, or a hundred people. We ask our priests to drive hundreds of miles a month to accommodate parishioners who drive a just a short distance. Having a priest in every church will not bring people back. Look at our churches today. Even with the virus bars are packed, sporting events are coming back, schools will be opening, Walmart, Menards, and others stores are open. And churches are at 25% capacity. Everyone was worried. What are going to do with all the extra people that would come? Are you going to turn them away? I can assure you that for nearly all masses we have not exceeded our 25% capacity. We have not had the opportunity to even think of turning someone away. The people never came. Having another priest is not going to bring people back.
If anything we need to focus on the vocation of families. Today we have a vocation of divorce. If you get tired of someone, leave. If you cannot communicate, leave. If you find someone new, leave. Instead of teaching our children how to work out problems, how to defend the sacrament of marriage, we teach them divorce. We need to pray for strong, solid, faith filled marriages. Seldom do religious vocations come from divorced families. The importance of a father and mother needs to be stressed.
I do believe if we have stronger families, parents committed first to their marriage and then their children, we would not have a problem with vocations. Please pray for the vocation of married life.
May the Lord bless you, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen