Following decades with very few men following a call to become Alaskan priests, the tide is changing — even surging.
After ordaining two priests the past three years, the Anchorage Archdiocese now has five young men studying to become priests with two others set to join their ranks this fall. At this rate there should be one new priest ordained every other year for the next decade and beyond.
This is good news for those who spent years watching older priests either retire or die with no one to step in behind them.
As with most good things, however, this springtime of vocations comes with a cost — an average of about $325,000 for one man to be fully trained for the priesthood.
As reported on page two of this issue, the archdiocese is trying to raise enough funds to start a seminarian endowment that will help cover this cost for years to come.
For each new priest, there are countless men and women who faithfully carry out the little duties and incremental steps that culminate in a beautiful liturgy in which the archbishop ordains a man to the priesthood. Parents who encourage and pray for vocations, relatives and friends who support these men, priests who model a joyful and inspiring example, these are all vital links in the chain of events.
But after a man steps forward, forsakes all else and boldly answers the call to priesthood, we must be ready to prepare him for his new vocation.
Over the next five years, the archdiocese hopes to raise $5 million for the seminarian endowment. This would allow the fund to spin off earnings that could fund the education of eight seminarians at a time. If this vocations boon continues to build steam, this endowment will be a critical to sustaining this long-prayed-for phenomenon.
In the weeks and months to come we will likely hear more about this effort. We need to remain open to ways we can help.
To begin we can participate in a June 9 fundraising event at St. Patrick Church in Anchorage. The evening gathering will give many a chance to meet our seminarians face-to-face, learn more about their journey towards the priesthood and then donate to a very specific need.
We asked God to send us priests. They are arriving. Let us rally to their cause!
For information on how to donate to the Seminary Endowment or to purchase tickets for the upcoming “Seminarian Endowment Challenge,” go online to archdioceseofanchorage.org or call (907) 297-7789.
— By Joel Davidson, editor