Facing a shrinking and aging group of priests in active ministry, the Paulist Fathers on March 13 announced that the missionary society will close three national offices and leave two campus ministry programs, including its 117-year ministry at the University of California at Berkeley.

The historic community of U.S. Catholic priests also said it will change its pastoral staffing model for three communities: Immaculate Conception Church in Knoxville, Tennessee; Old St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco; and the Paulist Center in Boston. Instead of having two full-time active Paulist priests assigned to them, those communities instead will be served by one full-time priest, who will be assisted by senior Paulist priests in residence.

Fr. René Constanza, the president of the Paulist Fathers, said in a prepared statement that the society decided on implementing those changes after heeding the “advice of external lay professionals” during a “comprehensive discernment process.”

“We are responding to where we believe the Holy Spirit is calling us to serve, considering the changing landscape of the Catholic Church in the United States and the shifting demographics of our own members,” Constanza said.

In a chart that accompanied a previous letter written by Constanza, the Paulist Fathers said the number of priests in active ministry had fallen by almost half in 20 years, from 98 in 2004 to 50 in 2024. And of those, almost two-thirds — 62% — are in their 60s, 70s and 80s.

By 2034, the Paulists predict they’ll have only 31 members in active ministry….

From NCR Online

See the 2014 story of Bishop Barber removing two Paulist priests in Berkeley.