More young men considering the priesthood

Posted at: 01/30/2013 5:24 PM
Updated at: 01/30/2013 6:10 PM
By: Berkeley Brean

Starting this weekend, Catholics who go to mass will see a special video highlighting two of the most important things in the future of the diocese.

It's asking Catholics to help raise money to pay for seminarians and retiring priests. The diocese says it costs $40,000 per seminarian per year and the pension for retired priests is underfunded. The diocese has already raised $11 million. The goal is $14 million.

Bishop Robert Cunningham, Apostolic Administrator, said, “I ask that all of our Catholic people read this information upon receiving it. I ask that they pray about it. And I ask that as best as they can they give generously to these two important causes.”

There are 25 seminarians in the diocese which is a huge increase from the number of seminarians just a decade ago. So why is there a surge in the number of young men thinking about being a priest? The answer is more recruiting and a sense of urgency. The priest shortage problem is well known, but 10 years ago, the Rochester diocese had one, maybe two seminarians.

Andrew Montanaro, Seminarian, said, “So to give my life for a worthy cause is exactly what I want to do. I want to go all out, as they say.”

Andrew Montanaro can bring some intensity to the altar. He's in his fourth year of a six year seminary program. The group of 25 is one of the largest in recent memory and they're different. A little older, a little more secular.

Bishop Robert Cunningham said, “Most are college age, after college. Many have gone to college and worked for a few years and then make that decision.”

Andrew grew up in Spencerport, went to Aquinas and graduated from RIT with a degree in Biology. People asked him why he wants to do this.

Montanaro said, “The image that a lot of people think about priests is older white haired guys, you know, and I think it's changing. I hope that changes the image of the priesthood.”

This is a change. Andrew is a martial arts expert and he says he uses it in his ministry.

Montanaro, said, “I have to. It's a resource I have in my past. And it's part of who I am.”

Andrew says he throws himself into faith with the same force and conviction as throwing a punch.

Montanaro, said, “I think it's a very human thing to live your life that way. If you're a person of faith, a disciple of Jesus Christ, to go all in, just like you're throwing everything into your punch, boy. It ties in. The principles are closely related.”

Half of the appeal the diocese is making now is to help educate people like Andrew. Seminarians don't have time to get a job and they're usually saddled with student loan debts from the college.