In the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, the number of seminarians has nearly doubled since 2010. With 49 seminarians, Lafayette has the highest total number of seminarians among all mission dioceses.
Father Kevin Bordelon, its vocations director, attributes this rise to a diocesan-wide effort to reach young people on many fronts, presenting many options to discern a vocation.
The diocese offers Quo Vadis (Latin for: Where are you going?) summer camps for high school students. It sponsors Focus Missionaries at the University of Louisiana and other retreats through the school’s Catholic student union. In addition, it provides discernment groups in high schools.
Father Bordelon addresses students in Catholic grade schools, youth and catechetical groups, adult groups, Knights of Columbus and parish vocation gatherings. He arranges the annual priests versus seminarians basketball game and coordinates events such as Vocations Awareness Week and dinners for prospective candidates with the bishop. He believes that forming a community of support for those discerning is critical.
Andrew Schumacher who attends Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, started thinking seriously about the priesthood during a diocesan retreat. He appreciates the joyful Catholic culture in the diocese. But despite the high number of seminarians, he said, “More are needed; some priests still serve two or three parishes.”
Father Bordelon explained, “Without seminarians we have no priests. Without priests we have no Eucharist. Without Eucharist we have no Church.”
Catholic Extension has funded seminarians in Lafayette since 1928 and in the last five years has granted more than $300,000 to the diocese for their support.