The cost involved in the formation of seminarians and diocesan priests should be a collective effort of all Christians. Dioceses, foundations, faithful and even the brotherhoods and confraternities collaborate ingeniously so that we sow the world with priestly vocations.
The CARF Foundation and the challenge of seminarian formation
Since its foundation in 1989, the CARF Foundation has acted as a link between thousands of benefactors willing to contribute financially with study grants and scholarships so that priests and seminarians from all over the world can receive a solid theological, human and spiritual preparation.
More than 800 bishops from 131 countries want some of their priests and seminarians to study at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome or at the Faculties of Ecclesiastical Studies of the University of Navarra in Pamplona. In turn, they complete their human and spiritual formation at the Sapientiae (Rome) and Bidasoa (Pamplona) International Ecclesiastical Colleges. In order to carry out this training also apply for study grants for their candidates.
Thanks to benefactors and donors like you, the CARF Foundation meets most of the requests, but the needs are growing and we want all requests to be met.
18,000 euros is the amount necessary for a candidate to live, study and train for a year at the universities of Rome or Pamplona. The neediest dioceses in the world request a full scholarship for their candidates. In all cases, the diocese covers a small part of the cost of training a seminarian in his country of origin, as a sign of its commitment to maximize the future use of the aid.
Approximately every academic year the CARF Foundation assists with direct and indirect scholarships approximately: 400 seminarians, 1,120 diocesan priests and 80 members of religious institutions.
Each full scholarship, awarded by the foundation, can be broken down as follows:
- 11,000, room and board.
- 2,700, tuition and academic fees.
- 800 €, supplement for human and spiritual formation.
- 3,500 €, allowances for academic training.
Personal expenses are always at the expense of the student or the diocese.
The Central Statistical Office of the Church has been in charge of the edition of The Pontifical Yearbook 2022 and the Ecclesial Statistical Yearbook 2020 published in recent days.
They gather the data on the 2019-2020 biennium which gives us an overview of the numerical reality of the Catholic Church in the different countries and on the different continents allowing us to extract some news related to the life of the Church in today's world.
The presence of Catholics does not change at the level of the entire planet, but it does if we analyze the number of Catholics in the different continents. There is a maximum increase on the African continent and a relative increase in Asia. On the other hand, in Europe there has been a continuous decline in recent years. America and Oceania remain stable in relation to the world total.
The data analyzed on priests in all ecclesiastical districts of the Catholic world, both diocesan and religious, reveal a decline in the number of priests. At the close of 2020 there were 410,219 priests in the world, 4,117 fewer priests than the previous year. Only in Africa and Asia were there significant increases in the number of priests, which together contributed a total of + 1,782 priests to the world during the biennium under analysis.
We can observe a clear imbalance between the number of Catholics and priests in the world, which translates into a very high overall pastoral burden.
Candidates for the priesthood went from 114,058 seminarians in the world in 2019 to 111,855 in 2020. The trend in major seminarians observed in the world total, between 2019 and 2020, affects all continents, with the exception of Africa, where seminarians increased by 2.8%. From 32,721 to 33,628 seminarians.
The declines in priestly vocations are significant especially in Europe (-4.3%,) although they can also be seen in the Americas (-4.2%) and Asia (-3.5%.)
The percentage distribution of seminarians by continent shows slight changes over the two-year period. Africa and Asia contributed 58.3% of the world total in 2019 and in 2020 their share rises to 59.3%. Oceania reveals some negative adjustment. America and Europe as a whole see their share decrease. American and European seminarians accounted for almost 41% of the total, while one year later they drop to 39.9%.
The birth of priestly vocations in Africa and Asia is a constant fact recorded in recent years. These future priests will support and strengthen the European and American Churches. This data helps us to get a real idea of the responsibility we have as Catholics to take care of each new vocation with the utmost care. Supporting the dioceses in the formation of seminarians, even more so in the most disadvantaged continents.