It was the largest ordination class the diocese has seen since 2000, when five men were ordained. By 2015, the diocese expects that 28 new priests will be ordained.
Quite a change from four years ago when the diocese had only six seminarians.
Promising, yes, but the diocese is also moving ahead with a major realignment of parishes to maximize its still limited number of priests. There are now 84 priests serving the 133 parishes in the diocese.
To address this shortage, the diocese is considering reducing the number of parishes from 133 to about 95 over the next five to seven years...
Rather than have a single priest oversee several parishes, the diocese is considering
merging parishes to have a single staff, bookkeeping record, and parish membership list, even though masses may continue to be held in several churches.
If Mass attendance trended up like ordinations, I suppose then they'd still have the facilities in place to re-establish the separate parishes.
For the men newly ordained as priests, accepting the call to service is a small but hopeful step in stemming what some see as society-wide resistance to commitment.
"I think people are failing to respond to God's call for whatever their vocation is: marriage, family, relationships," [newly ordained Father Lance] Schneider said.
(via Daniel Suhr at The Triumvirate)