Number of priests in the U.S. declining

 

Recently we’ve reported a national shortage of priests in the United States.

News 25’s Ashleigh Fortenberry spoke with two local faces today about their journey to priesthood and what they think of the decline.

The number of men joining the priesthood in the United States has gone down significantly, resulting in a shortage of priests.

Father Braxton Necaise, who serves at Our Lady of the Gulf in Bay St. Louis, says despite the shortage, the Diocese of Biloxi has not been impacted. “Look at the state of the Diocese of Biloxi in terms of where we have priests. We don’t have any parishes without priests at this time. We do have eight men in seminary who are discerning coming into the priesthood, discerning if God is calling them to be priest. We have 81 priests here in the Diocese of Biloxi.”

In the last 50 years, the number of priests in the United States has decreased by 60 percent, according to data from the Georgetown Center of Applied Research in the Apostolate, leaving more than 3,500 churches without a resident pastor.

Father Braxton also serves as the assistant vocational director of the Diocese of Biloxi. He says he believes the declining number of priests represents something bigger than a shortage. “Our western society has its downfalls. We live in a very materialistic society and we see it as evidence everywhere we go. So, it can be difficult for men to discern if God is calling them to the priesthood. It may look like vocations are declining, but the reality is God is still calling people to the priesthood. He’s continuing to call, but are they willing to listen?”

Deacon Tomasz Powriznik says he felt like something was missing in his life when he decided to follow his calling, leave Poland and move to South Mississippi to continue his journey to priesthood.

He says he understands why some people might fear the commitment, but as he nears his ordination at the end of January, he’s happy with the path he chose to follow. “It’s a very nice and joyful life. You are surrounded by wonderful people and wonderful parishioners who need you and appreciate you. They ask you for prayers and they pray with you. From one side you have your spiritual side, your thoughts and prayers and from the other side you have your friends who have a little bit different life.”

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