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Boom: More Young Men Being Drawn to Priesthood…in India

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 12/20/15

The Hindustan Times looks at the reasons why:

For five years, Omar Fernandes worked as a member of the ground staff at the Mumbai airport. The end of each day was marked by coffee and conversations with colleagues. “Most of the men I worked with were in their 40s and 50s,” says the 30-year-old. “They would talk about how miserable they were at work, how they were struggling to provide for their families. It seemed like such a hard life.” These conversations began to crystallise his resolve to become a priest. It’s something he’d been thinking about for four years already. “I was 24 when I got my first promotion at work,” he says, “and I felt nothing. It didn’t seem to mean anything beyond more money and more participation in a meaningless rat race.” Fernandes spoke to his parish priest about this, and the priest suggested he try social work to give meaning to his life. Fernandes, a graduate in psychology and a former state-level footballer, began volunteering at orphanages and a lepers’ home run by the church. “We would pray together, and the kind of solace that the combination of material help and spiritual guidance gave them — and me — was amazing,” he says. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘Okay, this makes sense. This is the life I was meant to lead’.” At 28, he told his family that he was joining a seminary. His family and friends were surprised, mainly because he had never seemed overtly religious. But across the country, the combination of corporate ennui and a search for meaning is driving urban youngsters to the Church. In many cases, these young men had grown up —and been raised — with a very different vision of their future, one with the regular trappings of job, ambition, family and wealth. “While a religious upbringing and parental support have always been factors, now more and more, we have young people who have worked in fields such as finance, entrepreneurship and family businesses coming to us and asking — What is the point? Why am I doing this?,” says Rev John Rodrigues, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Bombay, who is also rector of the city’s St Pius seminary. “The forces of peer pressure and the rush to make more and more money are having two opposite effects — for some, it is driving them away from the Church, but for others, it is pulling them towards it.”

Read it all. 

Photo: Ravi Choudhary/ Hindustan Times

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