Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Statistics and all that.........

I like opinion polls. I find them fascinating. In the political sphere, they are generally accurate (in Ireland) - particularly at election time. I complained for years that I had never been approached by any of these research companies - but I was recently. I'll be watching the new opinion polls avidly!!

Recently, I found myself reading some more statistics - this time in The Catholic World Report on priestly vocations in America, and the recent trends in same. Some interesting facts emerge. When the late Pope John Paul II was elected in 1978 there were 63,882 major seminarians worldwide - when he died in 2005, that number had increased to 114,439 seminarians - an increase of 79.1%. Impressive, isn't it? Several American dioceses have been part of that surge in numbers. So, the magazine publishes a 'league table' of sorts of those dioceses doing well, and those doing not so well - and try to analyse these trends.

I was interested in those doing well ,obviously! What is interesting is the reasons for those who do well in attracting vocations. They are (in no particular order): prayer; 'the culture of vocations'; prayer before the Blessed Sacrament; good priests; the avid interest of a local bishop (superior); prayer groups; sound formation; direct contact with young people; the culture of praying for vocations in a parish or diocese. Do you notice a trend there? Yes, prayer! We need to pray - we need to ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers! All the other reasons are important, but surely, prayer! (Statistics don't lie, do they?)

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