The Benedict XVI Institute Releases New Research on Vocations in Canada

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SEPTEMBER 29, 2023 - The Benedict XVI Institute for New Evangelization is releasing new research on the state of vocations in Canada. The report was published today and is now available to the public. It outlines twelve key findings about the background, discernment, and seminary formation of recently ordained Canadian priests.

The research is primarily based on a survey of new ordinands to the priesthood in Canada in 2021 and 2022. It aims to discover common elements in men hearing and answering the Lord’s call to a priestly vocation. It includes influences from everything to family, devotional practices, and spiritual reading.

“This research offers invaluable insight into vocations in Canada,” said Dr. Jason West, President of Newman Theological College. “While a vocational calling is always from the Lord, this report sheds light on what factors may help a man to hear and respond to God’s call for his life.”

The report also overviews the current situation of vocations in Canada. Among many findings, it points out that in order to meet the replacement ratio for seminarians to priests, seminary enrollments in Canada would need to increase by about 3.5 times. It also found that new priests were most likely to be eldest children, and that altar serving was the most common parish-based ministry that they engaged in prior to entering the seminary.

In his foreword to the report, Archbishop Richard Smith of the Archdiocese of Edmonton praised the unique nature of the research.

“I am very grateful,” said Archbishop Smith, “to Dr. Ryan Topping and the Benedict XVI Institute at Newman Theological College for the research findings offered in this report. I am thankful for not only the information provided but also the simple fact that research was undertaken. Rarely, to my knowledge, has such a study been conducted in Canada.”

The Benedict XVI Institute hopes that the research will help Canadians understand and appreciate more deeply the men responding to the call to priesthood and encourage others to follow in their footsteps. It will also provide a baseline for future research into vocations in the country.

Dr. Topping, author of the report, and Fr Cristino Bouvette, Vicar for Vocations and Young Adults of the Diocese of Calgary, both presented key findings from the report to Canada’s English Speaking Bishops during a session of the Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops Plenary this week in Toronto.

Immediately following the close of the Bishops’ Plenary, the Benedict XVI Institute is also hosting an additional two day conference for Canada’s Bishops, Seminary Rectors, and Vocations Directors who will gather to discuss the implications of the report for the renewal of priestly vocations in the country.

The full report, along with a poster suitable for distribution in parishes and schools, is available for download on the Benedict XVI Institute’s website here.

About the Benedict XVI Institute: Inspired by the life and work of Pope Benedict XVI, the Benedict XVI Institute for New Evangelization is the outreach arm of Newman Theological College and promotes evangelization, leadership development, and new vocations in the Church.

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