Phoenix, Ariz., May 21, 2019 / 12:00 am (CNA).- With a record-high number of seminarians, the Diocese of Phoenix has dedicated more funds to support the formation of the Arizona diocese’s future priests.
There are 40 men studying to become priests in the Diocese of Phoenix, according to the Catholic Sun. That is the highest number of seminarians in diocesan history, and double the number of seminarians the diocese had eight years ago.
The formation costs of seminarians are often met through private donations. However, the diocese has allocated an additional $4 million from an ongoing fundraising campaign to support the education and living expenses of future priests.
The Catholic Sun reported that it costs $40,000 to support each seminarian per year. This covers expenses including, tuition, board, and health insurance. Each seminarian undergoes at least five years of official formation.
The money will be taken from the “Together Let Us Go Forth ~ Juntos Sigamos Adelante,” a campaign that began in 2017, and aims to raise $100 million in support of the area’s growing Catholic community. The money will help fund ministries, charities, schools, and churches.
Cande de Leon, director of the Office of Mission Advancement, told the Catholic Sun that a recent diocesan poll found that priestly development is a high priority for parishioners and Church leaders. The vocations aspect of the campaign, he said, will allow the laity to be directly involved with priestly formation by their donations.
“It is important to the Catholics in the Diocese of Phoenix,” de Leon said. “It gives every Catholic an opportunity to help play a part in the formation of our priests by making a sacrificial gift. The seminarians are making great sacrifices for us — the ‘Together’ campaign is an opportunity to make a sacrifice to our seminarians before they are priests.”
Anthony Dang, a Phoenix seminarians, told the Catholic Sun that support from his family and the diocese has given him the opportunity to engage in his studies without stress about how to pay for them.
“I am appreciative of what the diocese has done to cover the high cost of seminary formation,” Dang said.
“I am very grateful for that …. I look forward to being with the people and meeting them where they are at and supporting them in their lives, in whatever situation they happen to be in – to be an instrument of God to bring the light of Christ to others.”