Rorate Caeli

The Paulists, on life support

Ten years ago Rorate shared the news that the Paulist Fathers were selling their seminary. As we noted, according to the order's website, "The Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle, known as the Paulist Fathers, is the first community of Catholic priests founded in the United States."

Fast forward a decade and "is" will soon be "was".

The Paulists announced a massive downsizing, including leaving colleges, closing offices and cutting priests at remaining Paulist locations -- including their infamous Paulist Center in Boston.

The National Catholic Reporter summarized the Paulists' woes with numbers impossible to spin: 

"In a chart that accompanied a previous letter written by (Paulist President Rene) Constanza, the Paulist Fathers said the number of priests in active ministry had fallen by almost half in 20 years, from 98 in 2004 to 50 in 2024. And of those, almost two-thirds — 62% — are in their 60s, 70s and 80s.

By 2034, the Paulists predict they'll have only 31 members in active ministry."

Just before Vatican II there were 262 Paulist Fathers.

There are many, many examples of why the Paulists are drying up -- we can start with this -- but one thing remains consistent: liberal religious orders are dying and traditional ones are flourishing. We can only pray the next pope understands mathematics and reality.