On June 5, I will ordain eight fine men to be new priests for the family of God in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
This is the second class of priests ordained during the pandemic. These new priests, too, will be called to be missionaries to a generation that has seen its certainties and securities disrupted by a deadly plague.
I think history will look back and see that the pandemic did not transform things so much as accelerate trends and directions already at work in the Church and society. Changes that might have taken decades to play out will advance more quickly in the wake of this disease.
Before the pandemic, we were seeing demographic and other changes in the Church resulting in fewer people attending Mass and getting married in the Church, with fewer baptisms, and fewer young people receiving first Communion and confirmation.
At least for a few years, the pandemic will likely intensify these trends, along with other challenges posed by the Church’s position in an aggressively secular society. That includes the trend of the “nones” — the growing numbers of young people who choose not to affiliate with the Church or any organized religion.
The Church will also need to cope with the sharp decrease in the numbers of children being born. This trend, too, has been sped up by the pandemic, with some researchers now speaking of a “Covid baby bust.”
The challenges we face will require us to think deeply in the coming years about our parishes and schools, about our diocesan structures and finances, and about the shape of our mission.
But as I look to the future, I see only reasons for hope.
One beautiful trend that was visible in the Church before the pandemic is what I call the “missionary turn” among Catholics — the growing awareness that every one of us in the Church is baptized and summoned to be saints and missionary disciples of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The vocations of our new priests flow out of this new missionary awakening in the Church. Our new priests are men formed for mission, each having heard and answered Christ’s personal call of Jesus to love him and proclaim his Gospel with their lives….
The above comes from a June 4 story in Angelus News.