Italy, CEI: fewer seminarians, families may be a nursery for vocations

Italy, CEI: fewer seminarians, families may be a nursery for vocations
Italy, CEI: fewer seminarians, families may be a nursery for vocations

The data of a report by the Italian Bishops’ Conference reveal that in just ten years the decline in vocations has reached 28%: in fifty years the seminarians have more than halved. Don Michele Gianola, undersecretary of the CEI: “This situation must not make us lose hope. The attention of the Church today must be directed to all vocations, not only to the priestly one ”

Federico Piana – Vatican City

In Italy the number of diocesan seminarians is drastically decreasing. In the decade 2009-2019, the decline was 28% while, if we consider a longer period of time, we realize – as also confirmed by the data of the recent Pontifical Yearbook – that in the last fifty years the decline in vocations has exceeded the 60% share: in 1970 there were 6,337 while in 2019 they collapsed to 2,103. These numbers, released by the Italian Bishops’ Conference after a powerful work of research and analysis, show the photograph of a country with fewer and fewer candidates for the priesthood and with an ever higher age: in total, there are 1804 diocesan seminarians today, with a average age of nearly twenty-eight. Those between the ages of 19 and 25 are only 4 out of 10.

Do not lose hope

“This situation must absolutely not make us lose hope” is keen to clarify don Michele Gianola, undersecretary of the CEI and director of the national office for vocations of the ecclesial body, who explains how, now more than ever, “the vocational crisis, which has been going on for decades, must be addressed by dealing with it with the heart and not just worrying about it with anxiety” .

Listen to the interview with Don Michele Gianola

Taking care of all vocations

The reasons for such a sudden decline can certainly be traced back to the demographic winter that Italy is going through, but not only, explains Don Gianola: “It is not just the lack of children and this is clear when we observe that the the number of seminarians is decreasing faster than the number of young people. One of the roots of the crisis lies in the fact that we cannot focus only on the priestly vocation but on all vocations: for example, marriage, consecrated life, ordained ministry ”.

Looks, not techniques

One of Don Gianola’s greatest concerns is that budding vocations remain closed in the hearts of men without being able to blossom. “In the Gospel – he says – we do not know why the Word sown very often does not give fruit but the Church, to ensure that these seeds bloom, cannot rely on techniques: to let God’s life pass, we need gazes”.

Families with several children, vocational nurseries

In the CEI report, the family with more than one child continues to be highlighted as a true vocational nursery. According to the data, in fact, only one in ten seminarians is an only child. “Families – concludes Don Gianola – can create suitable spaces to give rise to vocations. And I think that the practice of praying as a family for God to send workers into his harvest is an essential tool for getting in tune with God’s own heart ”.


Italy CEI seminarians families nursery vocations

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