Last September, the Diocese of San Jose Vocations Office conducted a survey of 1,178 Catholic high school and Catholic college students in our Diocese. The results are helping to shape our diocesan plan for promotion of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. The main conclusion is that young people cannot imagine life as a priest or religious. Although over 95 percent have a desire to do something great with their life however difficult, only 1.9 percent of young men say they would seriously consider priesthood and 0.9 percent of young women say they would seriously consider religious life. Although all would encourage a friend who is seeking a vocation, the youth respondents struggled to understand why a young person would consider a vocation at all. When asked why someone would become a priest the most common response was “to serve God.”
In hopes of helping young people understand why priests find so much significance in priesthood, we asked one of our youth to sit down with some of our priests and seminarians. Justin Chung, a junior at Bellarmine College Preparatory, and an active parishioner at Holy Korean Martyrs Parish, spent the summer interviewing several of our priests and seminarians.
In the next several issues of The Valley Catholic, he will share what he thinks of the life of priesthood. In our ongoing dialogue with young Catholics in our families, schools and parishes, it is our hope that a young perspective on priesthood would open up further dialogue and reflection on the possibility of a religious vocation. Given that our diocese needs to ordain 45 new priests in the next 14 years just to cover for retirement of our clergy, these conversations with young men in our local Church are particularly significant.
This past summer I had the privileged opportunity to interview priests around the San Jose Diocese. Each priest was so welcoming and talking with each of them was so interesting and enjoyable because I got to learn about their lives in ministry and as people, hearing a variety of insights on living out the Catholic faith. Their lives have been enriched with emotion and experiences and listening to their stories truly was an amazing opportunity. This experience has definitely helped me to grow in my faith, and these articles I have written encapsulate my conversations with a variety of knowledgeable and interesting priests as well as my reflections after each talk. Please enjoy.