Monday, August 13, 2007

New archbishop seeks to lure more to priesthood

When Joseph E. Kurtz takes over as archbishop of Louisville on Wednesday, he'll face the challenge of finding more people wanting to take up the priesthood.

Kurtz is stepping into an archdiocese that, for the second time in two years, has ordained no priests.

For the last 10 years, the archdiocese has ordained an average of less than two priests per year, even though the Catholic population has grown 7%.

The archdiocese has 88 active (full-time) priests, roughly one-third the number in 1970. And the average age of all priests -- including retirees, some of whom continue to work part-time -- is 63.

The archdiocese has merged 17 parishes and told dozens of others to share priests because of those numbers and population shifts.

As bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville since 1999, Kurtz has garnered a reputation for recruiting a relatively high percentage of priests for that diocese's Catholic population.

The diocese, one-quarter the size of Louisville's, has ordained about 10 priests in the last four years.


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