Father Dwight Longenecker, the former Anglican priest who became Catholic, was the latest to predict earlier this month that the so-called “vocations crisis” in the Catholic Church “is over.” Father Longenecker’s hypothesis is that the so-called “liturgy wars” after the Second Vatican Council are “over,” with a new generation of faithful Catholics coming on the scene who just want to follow Church teaching. Longenecker also posited that “cultural Catholicism” is dying in America. People are no longer Catholic, he says, because they are Italian, Irish, Polish, Hispanic, or French. Increasingly, people are Catholic because they choose to be. The Bishop of Rockville Centre, Long Island says that despite the appearance of a priest shortage in his diocese, there isn’t one and he won’t even use the term, seminary enrollment is up.
There may be something to that argument. Seminary enrollment is up across the country, and some dioceses have no shortage of priests at all. One would think that with the problems in the Church today that enrollment would be down, but it isn’t just up, some new seminarians are impressing their instructors and superiors with their zeal for the faith. Younger priests and even religious are seen to be keen on upholding the Church's Tradition (and we can say that in both the "Big T" and the "small t" sense of tradition), and in following all of the Church's teachings, not merely in engaging in the politicized battles to be found in some other ecclesial communities. When bishops focus on vocations and encourage vocations to the priesthood, the diaconate, and the religious life then what they begin to see is a rise in those vocations.
The next step will be more parents encouraging priestly and religious vocations, since it is very often said that "the first seminary is in the home."