WASHINGTON, D.C., OCT. 20, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The archbishop of Washington, D.C., is seeing an increased interest in the priesthood in his archdiocese, despite a culture that is often at odds with the teachings of the Church.
As a consequence of this increasing interest, Cardinal-designate Donald Wuerl announced Tuesday that the archdiocese is opening a new seminary. The cardinal-designate was named today as one of the 24 men who will be made cardinals in November.
He said: “At a time when the teachings of the Catholic faith seem counter-cultural, we are seeing an increased interest in the priesthood, particularly among younger men who want to be a part of a new evangelization in society.
“Until now, most of our new seminarians, especially those in college, have had to leave the area for their studies. Now, the men will begin their formation here and be an integral part of the local Catholic community from the beginning.”
The Archdiocese of Washington has 67 seminarians, including 29 in college and pre-theology studies.
Monsignor Robert Panke, archdiocesan director of priestly vocations and president of the National Conference of Diocesan Vocations Directors, is overseeing the development of the new seminary.
He noted that the archdiocese has annually accepted between nine and 15 aspiring seminarians in recent years.
The new seminary will initially have space for 30 men who will also attend the Catholic University of America while receiving their priestly formation. They will go on to complete four years of theology studies at another institution before ordination. Renovation of the building to be used is under way, and the project is being funded by donations.
This will be the second seminary operated by the Archdiocese of Washington. The first, in Hyattsville, Maryland, opened in 2001 to prepare men from around the world to be archdiocesan missionary priests. Once ordained, they serve in the Archdiocese of Washington and missions worldwide. Last year, 1,443 men were in college seminaries in the United States, and 3,483 in pre-theology or theology, according to Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. After three decades of decline, seminary enrollment in the United States has stabilized over the past 15 years.