In The Catholic Messenger of Jan. 6, first the good news: Father Ron Hodges returns to our diocese and the pictures of nine seminarians on the back page. I have been blessed to get to know some of these good seminarians and pray for them regularly.
Now the bad news: The Peoria, Ill. Diocese has 36 seminarians compared to our nine. Why? Obviously we have not been praying hard enough for men to accept the call. The Rockford, Ill. Diocese lists 15 seminarians.
What can we do? Pray and fast. I made a suggestion a few years ago; I have been told that Tanzania, Africa, is a very poor country and has more young men wanting to study for the priesthood than that country can afford to educate. The few priests from Tanzania who are living in our diocese to earn advanced degrees seem to be outstanding priests in this old farmer’s judgment and speak very good English.
It seems logical to me that we arrange for a good seminary in Tanzania to educate, at our expense, a few young men to serve our diocese. I realize this would not be easy, but an extreme shortage of priests is not easy either.