There was a kind of “golden age” for priest and religious vocations in the United States during the 1950’s and 60’s. Seminaries were full and record numbers were ordained. The turmoil of modern times shook that simpler time, and the Catholic church was unable to evolve in a manner to address the relevance of these traditional lifestyles and hierarchies to the questions of a new age.
Rather than creatively deal with these questions raised, in part by Vatican II, the bishops of JPII responded with a return to nostalgic traditionalism. In the dearth of younger clergy, bishops replaced US vocations with men from 2nd and 3rd world countries. Several of these countries were currently experiencing their own “golden age of vocations.” These countries were often in isolated and less affluent parts of the world that hadn’t yet “come of age.” Among these countries was
and for a decade many American dioceses relied on imported Polish priests and
seminarians. Though still significant, the numbers are slowing – perhaps because
Poland itself is changing, more-open to questioning the Church’s ultimate authority
in dictating social and political issues.
A recent report shows that Polish priesthood ordinations are down one-third in the last decade, and new women aspirants to religious life is down 66% since 2005. Here’s a link to an article for more information…