Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Aggie Vocations

Because we should shout the good news from the mountaintop - here is an update on Aggie Vocations.

As of today, August 18, 2009, here are the numbers:

*Current Aggie priests/permanent religious = 128

*Current Aggies in seminary / religious formation = 42

*# of Aggies who entered seminary or religious formation:
  • 2009 = 8
  • 2008 = 7
  • 2007 = 8
  • 2006 = 14 (record number)
*For the last 12 years - average number of Aggies per year entering seminary/formation = 8.17
*2009 ordinations = 3 priests + 1 transitional deacon
*2009 religious = 2 final vows + 1 first vows + 1 entering novitiate

These numbers have translated into helping many orders and dioceses around the country. For instance:
  • The Austin diocese, one of the biggest pipelines from Aggieland, has a record number of seminarians for this fall = 46 (a record number for the third year in a row)!
  • The New Orleans province of Jesuits who has about a dozen Aggies.
  • 5 Aggie in the Nashville Dominican sisters.
The only "vocations crisis" we have is getting all of the vocations directors in front of our students.
Gig 'em Aggie Catholic Vocations!


Douglas Naaden said...

Idk. We're doing good in a relative way, but vocations are only making up a fraction of a percent of active Catholics at St. Mary's.
It's like comparing a sick population to a dying population. They're both dying, one just not quite as fast. While the sick may be doing well relative to the dying, it still doesn't bode well for the sick group.

The Ironic Catholic said...

I would be very interested as to why you think this is...this strikes me as significant b/c while you would expect a lot of vocations from some Catholic universities (there's some self selection going on there!), you all are wiping them up as an (admittedly very large) state school.

This may not be a prudent blog post, but if you have a chance to send an email, I'd genuinely appreciate your thoughts. I'm at ironiccatholic at yahoo dot com.

JWilson said...

The Aggie Newman Center in 98 played a major role in my conversion 7 years later. The priest there answered my questions on contraception in a way that was humble and made sense.

Marcel said...

Doug - Not quite sure what you are getting at. If you are saying we could do better - I agree and so does the rest of the staff. We never rest on our laurels. But, it IS still GOOD NEWS. The average campus ministry (Catholic or non-Catholic)gets about 25% of self-proclaimed adherents (Catholics at Catholic campus ministries, Baptist at Baptist campus ministries, etc) through the doors in a semester. We get closer to 50% in a semester. Now, while this is double the average it still means we have only 50% at best and it means that many of those coming are not fully engaged in their faith or working on it much.

Certainly we could do better. But, as it is, we are probably one of the best(if not #1).

IC - We have built a culture of discernment. It isn't something that happened over night. Our young, dynamic and orthodox priests make the priesthood very attractive.

JWilson - Gig 'em. I am glad to hear it. If you would like to send me your story, I would love to hear it all.

JWilson said...

My story could take hours. If you feel like prodding me more, you will get more. Here is a smidgen.

I spent the fall of 98 at TAMU on an exchange program from VMI (even worked on last bonfire). As the son of an Episcopal priest, I attended the Canterbury Club. Those were 'good times', especially since my classes only transferred as Pass/Fail for C or above. So, I wandered class to class in a haze from the weekend festivities before.

I'm not sure how it happened. I'm not sure how I got there. Perhaps it was one too many pumpkin sized burritos at Freebird's. Perhaps it was one too many 'Whoop!'s inserted into the Episcopal liturgy at Canterbury club. But, I found myself sitting across from a priest in the foyer at the Catholic Newman Center just off campus. I think I remember wandering in and asking to speak with a priest: my head was down and my voice was low in case the people who keep watch to point out the non-Catholics spotted me.

We sat facing each other in bucket chairs. He was in his late 30's? a bit pasty, thin, non-athletic. Kinda like a Michael Barber, but was not as happy that day. (Did I disturb his nap/lunch?)

Avoiding eye contact, I used an accusatory tone of voice to ask "so what is up with this no contraception thing you guys teach?" Not knowing how I got there or why I was talking with this guy, I really was not interested in his response. However, it sticks with me to this day, though I cannot remember much else I learned that semester.

In a tone of, let-me-put-on-a- happy-and-patient-face-even-though I-really-would-like-to-be-elsewhere-but-it's-my-job, he held up two pasty fingers to explain the reproductive act is for reproduction and unitive bonuses of the couple and It is bad to separate the two. (Maybe he was newly ordained, and was scared to death by my question.)

I probably responded 'whatever' as I headed for the door. Perhaps i muttered 'thanks' as I check to make sure my shoes were tied.

Almost 2 years later to the day, I find my self graduated, commissioned in the Navy, and in Newport, RI, dating an Assembly of God girl, talking about marriage and contraception. I tried to regurgitate why jimmy socks are bad. She thought I was nuts. I replied with a 'no let me show you' by embarking on a pilgrimage to a nearby Catholic parish, where I was sure I would find either an apologetics tract in the narthex or available priest to prove the Vatican roulette method to my bride to be.

I later learned that both resources, RI priests twiddling their thumbs waiting for Protestants to ask questions their congregation is afraid to hear or pro-NFP tracts in the narthex, are rarer than a sleeping person in $1000 seats at the super bowl.

Flash fwd 5 years, 2 kids, and a wedding dress and I come across a Catholic who gives me a Janet Smith 'Contraception Why Not' CD. This is where God revealed His work in me from behind the curtain at TAMU to slap me and say 'you need to live this.'

I became Catholic soon after. Wife follow within a year
... (Yes, there is much more to the story, but this is the TAMU part)

Andrea said...

Don't forget- You also have the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist community moving into the diocese this year to begin teaching!

Marcel said...

Andrea - I blogged on them recently. They arrived last week. The story of how they got here is a good one and it certainly involves our campus ministry.

Carson Weber said...

Amy Welborn Tweeted this blog post @amywelborn2

Marcel said...

JWilson - Thanks! God works in amazing ways.

Douglas Naaden said...

In a finite world you can always do better. +1
That's not what I'm getting at.

Let's say there is a town called Townsville in Purpleland. Townsville is very Catholic and has a birthrate TWICE that of the nation average. The national average is 0.1. Townsville, looks good compared to everyone else in Purpleland, but their birthrate is still nowhere near replacement. Every new life is a blessing, yes, but even though Townsville is doing better it's not anywhere near what it should be.

Aggieland is getting many vocations, relative to 21st century America, but it is nowhere near what it NEEDS to be. It's just strikes me as odd that you are trumpeting it. It's kind of like a 200 lbs guy bragging he can bench 30 lbs. Maybe that's great in his context, but my kid sister can bench that with one arm.

Marcel said...

Doug. I don't think I could disagree more.

Douglas Naaden said...

You can Marcel. In a finite world, you can always add +1.

Marcel said...

Well, if you put it that way.

James H said...

DOuglas I disagree. I hate to say this as a LSU fan but perhaps the Now New Archbishop of New Orleans (at leat in about a hour) should encourage Aggie enrollement.

I love articles like this and then get really mad. I Have no idea why not every Bishop in the COuntry is not on a flight to Texas A @ M with staff to figure out they are doing right

If this could be duplicated at the 3 major South Louisiana universities (LSU, ULL, and Mcneese) there would hardly be a vocation crisis

Father Joseph said...

Of course, I am biased, but, my alma mater Notre Dame does a great job in recruiting. Holy Cross gets the larger majority, but we Jesuits especially in the Chicago Province pick up the greater number. ..we have over 16 novices this year that includes first and second year. ..out of those 16, 9 are alums from previous years or recently . ..I still wish you great recruiting in the name of the Lord; and let us continue to do all things for the "greater honor and glory of God". I miss your Bishop McCarthy; and I am sure you will miss Bishop Aymond now Archbishop of New Orleans .. haven't seen anything about a new Bishop for your diocese as yet...I wish you the best. ..Father Joseph, SJ