As we prepare to celebrate Vocations Sunday and the 50th annual day of prayer for vocations tomorrow (April 21st, 2013), figures released in the past few days record a significant increase in entrants to religious life in England and Wales. The statistics also note that ordinations to the priesthood are at a ten year high.
The analysis of these welcome and surprising data demonstrates that the number of men and women entering religious life in our neighbouring countries show an increase for the third year running. Ordinations to diocesan priesthood projected for 2013 will be almost double that of 2011 (20 ordained in 2011 and 41 expected ordinations in 2013).
If these numbers of new entrants to religious life and the ordinations are a barometer of the health of the Catholic church in England and Wales, then it would appear to be in a very good state indeed.
You might ask about statistics for entrants and ordinations in Ireland. The sad fact is that there are no numbers available. For the numbers of entrants to the national seminary in Maynooth, we have to rely on unreliable figures from the seminary itself. If we need any data regarding the numbers entering religious life over the past few year, there are no statistics that can be published because religious orders tend not to furnish the most basic information to Vocations Ireland - the organisation responsible for promoting vocations to religious life in Ireland. We clearly need to creep out of the dark ages and become professional in our approach to this.
Statistics for entrants to religious orders in England and Wales: http://ukvocation.org/files/PDFs/religiousstats.pdf
Data for entrances to seminaries in England and Wales: http://ukvocation.org/files/PDFs/seminaryentrants.pdf.pdf
Numbers of ordinations in England and Wales: http://ukvocation.org/files/PDFs/diocesan_ordinations.pdf.pdf