The Vocations Crisis

Letter from the District Superior, Rev. Robert Brucciani, January 2016

My Dear Faithful,

Vocations in the Conciliar Church

Since 1965, there has been a dramatic decline in priestly and religious vocations. This decline is a clear sign that the Church is in crisis. Some attribute the decline to only external factors of the world in which we find ourselves—materialism, relativism, secularism, licentiousness, etc.— and vehemently deny any connection with the Second Vatican Council or what was done in its name. What is needed, they might say, is a greater fidelity to the Council. Others place the blame squarely upon the Second Vatican Council and hold that a greater fidelity to the council is akin in to pouring more petrol on an already calamitous fire in the hope of extinguishing it.

The first group are in denial of the objective doctrinal errors and pastoral imprudence contained within the council documents. The second group are forgetful of the problems that afflicted the Church before the Second Vatican Council which paved the way for that council—problems which still affect those parts of the Church that have not followed the changes of the Council.

Vocations in the Society of St. Pius X

Looking at the graph of the numbers of priests in the Society of St. Pius X we can see a steady rise. This is encouraging at first glance, but in reality it is cause for concern. If every priest in the field is working for vocations, then more priests should translate into more vocations each year, but they do not. The graph is a straight line graph which means that the number of vocations per priest in the field is in decline.

This is also shown by the graph of vocations per annum. The five-year average of the number of vocations is slowly declining when it should rise in proportion to the number of priests working for vocations. Clearly the Society has less of a vocations problem that the Conciliar Church, but it nevertheless has a problem which requires investigation.

Causes of the Vocations Crisis in the Conciliar Church

In a sermon by an anonymous priest, entitled On Vocations, the causes of the vocations crisis in the Conciliar Church are eloquently elaborated as follows:

I believe that the vocations crisis is a created crisis. Not that we wanted it to be here, but things have happened which have caused it. The first thing which has caused it is a crisis of liturgy and preaching. When people go to a Sunday Mass and nothing speaks of reverence for God, nothing speaks of sacrifice of Christ, how can he feel called, how can he experience Jesus Christ in his life? If the homily is empty, as empty as can be and boring, how can a young man or young woman be attracted to the religious life.

The second crisis is in the seminaries. Too many things went on in seminaries which were absolutely scandalous, but less obvious is that the seminaries taught things which made the whole faith seem dead and empty. Seminaries were places where, if they weren’t outright immoral, they taught dubious things. Virtue was discouraged, goodness was frowned upon—really! Seminarians would hide to say the Rosary, they wouldn’t want to be caught wearing the scapular. All that sort of thing.

The third crisis is in families. Families of course depend upon the Church, and when Masses are poorly said and sermons are poorly given, the families have no guidance; and the world, which is becoming more vicious all the time, slowly tears them apart. Too often in the past with the big questions like ‘birth control: yes or no?’ or ‘what does it mean to use the rhythm method responsibly?’ Or, ‘how do I raise my children morally, what does modesty mean?’ Far too often they got the worst possible answer or very vague ones; there was no guidance. And without guidance, families deteriorated. Most vocations come from really good, solid families. And when families start to fall apart, the vocational situation falls apart.


Finally, in the area of vocations, we have to do what Christ said; we have to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into the harvest. It is easy to speak about vocations, but we also have to get down on our knees and admit that if God does not give people who will come into the Church, who will lead the Church in the right direction, it will all just crumble. There is no guarantee that the faith will last in any given country, so we have to pray, humbly, admitting that we have not earned what we need so desperately: holy priests and holy religious, but acknowledging that if we don’t have them, everything will crumble; the Church first and then the country.

The points made above are very good points: failures in liturgy, preaching, priestly formation, doctrine, family life and prayer are indeed the main causes of the vocations crisis in the Conciliar Church. These failures were accelerated and concretised by the Second Vatican Council and what followed, but they existed in germ before the Council and we would do well to examine our own consciences in each of these areas.

Causes of Lacklustre Vocations in the Society?

In our Society we have preserved the most precious jewel which is the Tridentine Rite of Mass, butdo we celebrate it with becoming splendour? Is Low Mass on a Sunday a painful necessity or could we have made more effort to live the Mass by devoting scarce time to learning the chant, to serving at the altar, or to the beauty of the vestments and sanctuary?

Similarly, our priests are well-formed doctrinally, but are we lighthouses of virtue and movers of hearts enough to encourage vocations? 

Are our families truly solid or is the vicious world allowed to cast its morbid shadow across our children’s faces? Do we pray and do penance for vocations?

One cause of the paucity of vocations not mentioned above is the lack of images in our children’s minds. The image is the seed of the idea and so, in the case of vocations, if the children see no role models of priests or religious brothers and sisters, then the idea of themselves as priests or religious is missing. The world, of course, presents many images of attractive professions and lifestyles, but there are few images of the much more spiritually beautiful life consecrated to God. At most of our Mass Centres, the faithful only briefly see a priest in a hurry.

What Is To Be Done?

The main motor of vocations in the District is of course the school. We have 3 priests, 3 brothers and 4 sisters working there together with a number of volunteers and teachers who are making great sacrifices to educate the children for their vocations. We need to support the school with our prayers, with our time and with our money.

The Missa Cantata project under Fr. Lindström is aimed at a continuous improvement of our sung liturgy. The Archconfraternity of St. Stephen is being relaunched under the care of Fr. Barrett and Mr. Richard Cullen to train altar servers. Retreats, the Third Order of St. Pius X and the Eucharistic Crusade are being promoted by Fr. Pazat and Fr. Vandendaele to help build up strong families. First Friday and First Saturday devotions are being stepped up in London and Burghclere. There is a weekly Rosary group at St. Michael’s for vocations and there will be Vocations Days in five chapels in February preached by Fr. Nicholas CssR. These are all good initiatives, but they need your wholehearted support my dear brethren—especially the school.

We need to start a Catechist training programme too. Many children have no formal catechesis if they do not go to our school. Families should throw the world out of their homes, and encourage their children to admire those who have consecrated their lives to God. To have a vocation in the family is its greatest honour.

Vocations encourage more vocations, so we need to support our seminarians, postulants and novices by our prayers, by our interest and encouragement too. They are the heroes and heroines of the District, they are the role models for our children. Make sure you appreciate them. Write to them so that they know how much we hope in them and pray for them.

I wish you every grace and supernatural virtue through the hands of our Blessed Mother Mary in this new year.

O Lord grant us many holy priests

O Lord grant us many holy religious vocations

O Lord grant us many holy Catholic families.

In Jesu et Maria,

Rev. Robert Brucciani

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