Just in time for Vocation Awareness Week, we checked in with the seminarians at the House of Formation in the Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas. Anyone who thinks there is a rampant priest shortage in the Catholic Church in America needs to come to Little Rock, where there are currently 42 seminarians discerning the priesthood.
Ten of these seminarians live in the House of Formation, a 6,000-square-foot building that provides a place of residence for discerners and seminarians enrolled in English language programs or finishing college coursework at nearby University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The House of Formation was constructed in 2012 through a $150,000 matching grant challenge with Catholic Extension--one of the largest grants fulfilled by Catholic Extension in recent years.
Monsignor Scott Friend, the 2007 Lumen Christi Award recipient and the director of the diocese's vocations and seminarians office, said the House of Formation experience of the past two years has proven very valuable for assessing candidates early in their formation process. The house has also provided a gathering place for all of the seminarians when they are in town for an ordination or other activity. With capacity for 10 discerners and seminarians to live in the house, it is possible that the Diocese of Little Rock will accept discerners and seminarians from other dioceses in the years ahead.
Most promising of all, Msgr. Friend said the Diocese of Little Rock will ordain 20 new priests over the next few years. When that happens, the average age of priests in the Diocese of Little Rock will drop below 50 years old!
Consider supporting seminarian education through Catholic Extension. Every dollar makes a difference in helping a seminarian to answer God's call to serve the Church.