Worldwide Number of Seminarians Drop to Lowest Rate Since 1999

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0

Pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood!

According to a new Vatican report, the number of religious vocations to the priesthood dropped below 110,000 worldwide for the first time since 1999.

The Vatican statistics also reported that while there was a worldwide increase in Catholics, religious vocations in most categories decreased.

According to the report, the number of priests, seminarians, and religious sisters and brothers decreased throughout the world, most especially in North America and Europe. This change predominately began in 2019.

Africa is the only continent with an increase in seminarians.

Father Ronald M. Vierling published the statistical breakdown in a recent Twitter post.

Here’s the breakdown below:

Click here if you cannot see the post above.

Here’s the text of the statistical report: (layout modified, images added for easier reading)

“For the first time since 1999, the number of major seminarians worldwide has fallen below 110,000, according to statistics released by the Vatican.

Between the end of 2020 and the end of 2021: the number of seminarians worldwide declined from 111,855 to 109,895. The number of major seminarians worldwide surged from 63,882 in 1978 to 110,553 in 2000—far surpassing the rate of world population growth—and rose more steadily over the next decade to a peak of 120,616 in 2011.

The decline has been especially pronounced since 2019: the number of seminarians stood at 114,058 at the end of 2019. The 2021 decline in seminarians was most pronounced in North America and Europe.

The only continent in which the number of seminarians rose in 2021 was Africa.

During 2021:

The number of Catholics rose ⬆️ by 1.3%, from 1.36 billion to 1.378 billion, a lower rate than the 1.7% rate of world population growth

The number of priests decreased ⬇️ 0.57% to 407,872

The number of religious brothers decreased ⬇️ 1.6% to 49,704

The number of religious sisters decreased ⬇️ 1.7% to 608,958

The number of permanent deacons rose ⬆️ 1.1% to 49,176.”

Source: Catholic World News

Note from ChurchPOP Editor Jacqueline Burkepile:

This report proves true, from personal experience.

The Diocese of Fort Worth currently experiences a priest shortage. My small North Texas parish went without a priest for seven months after our priest was moved to another parish. The priest we have now moved from another parish to serve us. His former parish no longer has a priest for the time being.

The diocese constantly advocates for vocations, especially due to this shortage. It is imperative we pray for religious vocations.

Without priests, we do not have the sacraments. Without priests, we do not have the Eucharist – the source and summit of our Catholic faith! The true food that gives us life everlasting!

Let us beg Our Lord for more vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life:

God our Father, we thank you for calling men and women
to serve in your Son’s Kingdom as priests, deacons, and consecrated persons.
Send your Holy Spirit to help others
to respond generously and courageously to your call.

May our community of faith support vocations
of sacrificial love in our youth and young adults.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.


Prayer source: USCCB

[See also: My Year in a Carmelite Monastery: 5 Beautiful Lessons Laypeople Can Apply to Daily Life]

[See also: Priesthood or Married Life? How this Catholic Father of 5 Discovered His Vocation]

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Jacqueline Burkepile is the editor for the English edition of ChurchPOP. She is a journalist, former university campus minister, and a wife and mother. You can follow her posts on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter.



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