Our Lord started His public life by calling His first apostles, as we read in the gospel of St John, chapter one. Our Lord is the best manager: He loves to delegate tasks, to entrust all kind of duties to souls who are willing to help Him. First it was twelve Apostles, then 72 disciples, and He has not ceased ever since, up to this day to call souls at His service. “Come to me, and I will make you fishers of men!”
At what age does a young man hears that call for the first time? The answers throws important light on the importance of the family life and on the education of the young.
Fr. Patrick Troadec, the rector of our French seminary, did a survey among his seminarians over a period of 30 years. Here are his findings:
The seminarians coming from our schools are on average 20 years old and the others between 22 and 23 years old. They come from families of almost 6 children on average. 80% of them have their mothers at home.
Finally, as for the education received in addition to that provided by their parents, nearly ¾ of the French seminarians went through a school of the Society of Saint Pius X.
By way of comparison, between 1986 (the opening year of the Flavigny seminary) and 1995, the seminarians were on average 23 years old, they came from families of 4 children on average, 60% of them had their mother in the home and only 32% among the French had passed by a school of the Society.
The seminarians are today younger at their entrance than in the years 1986-1995, they come from families more numerous. They are more likely to have their mother at home and more likely to have gone through schools that are basically Catholic. These few figures show the vitality of the families of Tradition and the generosity that results from it. They also reveal that fully Catholic schools form a fertile ground for the emergence of vocations.
Although it is sometimes difficult to discern the age of God's first call, some seminarians have been able to determine it very accurately. First of all, with regard to age, more than half of the seminarians who entered the seminary thought of vocation before the age of 12.
Many of them have been touched by grace by serving Mass or fulfilling the function of sacristan. 12 felt the calling of the vocation on the day of their first communion. A large number of seminarians saw the quality of education received in their families as a triggering element of their vocation, and others, in almost equal numbers, the fine example given by a priest around them or by a religious.
Many seminarians experience a period of hesitation during adolescence, during which the idea of total consecration to God fades away, and this later returns to their spirit. It is at around 19 years old on average that the second call appears. Nearly half of them felt it during a retreat and a significant number also thanks to the help of a priest.