(Now, ready for some good news?) What the seminary lacks in numbers, it may make up for in intensity and eagerness. The seminarians speak of finding a joy and purpose that eluded them in secular careers. “We live in a very confusing world, a world where there is a lot of evil in it, and good men need to step forward,” said Brian Graebe, a former high school teacher who is finishing his first year. “You can stick your head in the sand, or you can do something to change it. What more heroic life is there than to touch these eternal mysteries?” (Amen, preach it!)
The biggest change, however, is in the age and backgrounds of seminarians. Decades ago, young men entered the seminary in their teens (...and, decades ago, young men also got married in their teens, and some went to war in their teens, and many got jobs in their teens that they intended to keep until the day they would retire from it. The root of the Church's vocations shortage is grafted onto the bigger crisis of our culture's phobia towards any decision that involves a permanent commitment. Colleges allow students to be "undecided". I can sign a contract committing myself to some business deal, and some lawyer can get me out of it. I can make the promise to love someone for the rest of my life, and a divorce gets me out of that. Should we be that shocked that, when we ask young men to make a decision that will affect them forever, they're a little bit hesitant? NEWSFLASH: THEY'RE NOT USED TO IT!).