Today during the homily our priest lamented the fact that our parish hasn't produced any priest and religious. Our Diocese is reputed to be doing well along the lines of priest, but apparently our parish hasn't contributed. I thought about the priests that have been here as long as I've been attending my current parish and out of all of them only one was from this town, and he was a convert after he left to go to college. As far as the priesthood goes I can only think that the lack of Catholic identity in our deanery and diocese is a big contributor. Have a strong Catholic Identity and it helps define who we are as a people, helps nullify the constant attacks on the Church, helps nullify the ridicule of the priesthood by our society and for young men it makes choosing a life in the sacerdotal ranks not so alien. And of course you have the people, parents and friends who have to encourage their sons, brothers, nephews, and yes even dads and uncles to listen to God when He calls.
As for religious, that's easy, have more brothers and sisters in the diocese. Make religious more visible and a part of the daily life of the Catholics in the diocese. This is part of that Catholic Identity I was talking about. Religious are virtually mythical creatures around here, and the religious we have are of the older social justice types that blend in with the crowd. It would be good for our bishop to invite some of the thriving religious orders full of young people like the various communities of Dominican sisters or the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. Also inviting some priests from the Fraternity of St. Peter or similar societies would probably help to inspire some future clerics. It could be that I'm suggesting something that isn't as feasable as I wish it to be, for I don't know about the logistcs and protocol involved in this, so be it, but this is my story and I'm sticking to it.