We are frequently presented with pictures of a declining Church, especially in the western world. This is reflected in various figures such as Mass attendance, baptisms, marriages and numbers of priests. However, although the trend is undeniable, it is not uniform and there are many instances of individual dioceses going against the trend.
Fr Zuhlsdorf has given some figures for the Diocese of Madison in the USA, which has been headed for the last ten years by Bishop Robert Morlino. Since Bishop Morlino was installed in 2003, the number of seminarians in the diocese has increased from 6 to 35 - nearly a six times as many. As a bonus, Bishop Morlino likes all his newly ordained priests to be able to celebrate Mass in the forma extraordinaria.
I do not have the comparable figures to hand for the Middlesbrough Diocese, but I think it would be fair to say that in the five years since he took charge of the diocese, Bishop Drainey has put considerable effort into seeking vocations to the priesthood, and has had a good measure of success. For this, he should be congratulated.
However, if the rate of retirements is to be matched ordinations, many more young men must be attracted to the priesthood. Maybe Bishop Drainey should take a leaf out of the book of Bishop Morlino and encourage all his ordinands to be trained in the forma extraordinaria.