This year, the Catholic Church will receive a fresh crop of priests in the United States — and it’s a bumper crop.
The 2021 report on ordinations by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, in collaboration with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, identified 472 transitional deacons to be ordained Catholic priests this year — an increase of 24 new priests compared to last year’s ordination class. The annual report also noted that, of the 346 ordinands who replied to an email questionnaire, 75% will be ordained for the diocesan priesthood (compared to 82% last year), while 24% will be ordained for a religious order (compared to 18% last year).
But if the quantity of new priests to be ordained is a sign of hope for the Church, the quality of these new priests underscores that hope by reflecting a strong brotherhood unified in virtue and the desire to undertake the Church’s mission through teaching, sanctifying and providing pastoral care for those they will be serving in the months and years to come.
At Mount St. Mary’s Seminary and School of Theology in Cincinnati, members of the seminary’s Class of 2021 will be ordained for several dioceses around the country, including the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, two for the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Cincinnati, and the Dioceses of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana; Kansas City, Missouri; and Toledo, Ohio.
According to Father Ryan Ruiz, dean of the School of Theology for the seminary, the size of this year’s class comes with its own blessing.
“Twelve men will be ordained priests from Mount St. Mary’s Seminary this year, giving us a nice scriptural number of which to boast,” he told the Register.
The class as a whole, Father Ruiz said, stands out in their witness and service to one another and in their willingness to carry these habits with them into the priesthood.
“One aspect that has shaped their overall approach to priestly formation is their understanding of the importance of selflessness in the world today,” he said, pointing out that three of the seminarians to be ordained are converts to the faith, and two of these converts are brothers “who helped each other into the Church and then into the seminary.”
As director of liturgy at the seminary, Father Ruiz told the Register that he was especially pleased by the class’s firm grasp of the liturgy.
“The men in this year’s cohort — perhaps more so than any other cohort I have encountered up to this point in my work in seminary formation — are strongly liturgical,” he said. “They have exhibited an impressive facility not only with the praxis of liturgical celebration, but also with the deep theological and spiritual insights to be drawn from the Church’s multiform rites.”
The dozen graduating from Mount St. Mary’s, Father Ruiz told the Register, have been profoundly transformed by their seminary education — and will be further transformed by the graces they receive at ordination.
“Cynics might scoff and say that this selflessness is merely the manifestation of the exuberance of youth or idealistic naiveté,” he said. “However, to know these men is to know that this is something much more deeply rooted in them than a mere passing thought and that it will, in fact, have a major effect in the lives of the people whom they will serve as priests.”
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