Saturday, December 20, 2014
An impressive report. . .
What impressed me most was the delight of parents whose sons had chosen to become priests. They clearly honored their sons and their faith with the greatest of joy and reverence for those whom the Lord calls. Some may call it old fashioned. I think it is inspiring. So also the stories of these young men were inspirational moments that spoke well to the very Lutheran understanding of vocation or calling.
What troubles me is that while this chronicled the ascendency of seminarians and new priests in a church body that has heard too much bad news, we Lutherans are finding the numbers of seminarians down, along with the numbers of those preparing for pastoral vocations (at least at Synodical colleges and universities). This is indeed troubling. Enrollment to the residential programs at both Fort Wayne and Saint Louis are down (though the drop is somewhat countered by the growth of the non-residential SMP program). I am greatly troubled that we as a church are not urging the brightest and best to consider church work vocations (especially men to the pastorate), that parents are neither as thrilled by their children's choice of church work vocations nor as supportive as they once were, and that the church has further dampened the enthusiasm by foisting more and more of the total cost of education upon seminarians and those in undergrad programs of church work.
Maybe we need to watch more stories like this one by Lisa Ling. I know that I was inspired by figures in the media in my era (going back almost to Bing Crosby and the Going My Way and The Bells of St. Mary's along with Shoes of a Fisherman, The Cardinal, etc.). Church work, and specifically the pastoral vocation, are noble callings and we need to encourage all our children (especially our best and brightest) to consider the calling. The support of the family is key to anyone's consideration of the pastoral ministry or other church work vocations. I know it was a major help to me.