The United States Council of Catholic Bishops published the names & photos of the Ordination Class of 2009 (found here), along with a few statistical factoids, such as:
On average, the responding ordinands report that they were about 17 when they first considered a vocation to the priesthood.
The average age of ordinands for the Class of 2009 is 36.
Relatively few ordinands say that TV, radio, billboards, or other vocational advertising were instrumental in their discernment.
It's a tough decision. I know a few young men who are right now discerning a call to the priesthood. They have been for several years now. They all have the same concerns: What if they get through everything and take their vows, and they realize that they don't want to be a priest anymore? What if they meet a woman and fall in love? What if they WANT to meet a woman and fall in love? What about being a father? What about their families? And these are just a few of the many issues facing young men in their discernment process.
One need only turn on the television for about ten minutes to see that contemporary American society is not inclined toward Christ. It's not just the TV lineup, either; the workplace, the voting booth, the internet, right down to where we shop, all put out there more and more attractive choices that would compromise my Church and my faith. When the world no longer believes, becoming a catalyst for faith can be seen as almost futile.
No wonder it can take a decade or more to discern a vocation.
This is why I applaud advertising for vocations. Whether I'm buying laundry detergent or wardrobe staples, I rarely admit that advertising of any kind significantly affects my decisions. I suspect that the overwhelming majority of us would say the same. I know better, though, because I know that good advertising doesn't work directly. It gets under the surface and attempts to shape the underlying desires of our hearts. So despite the above statistic regarding vocational advertising, I believe it's a practice that needs to continue, if not stepped up a bit.
The following short film in two parts is an excellent piece promoting vocations to the priesthood. As you watch them, pray for anyone who might be discerning a vocation. And while you're at it, ask them to watch this film.
“As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”