For historic Philadelphia seminary, enrollment hits a new peak

For historic Philadelphia seminary, enrollment hits a new peak
Pope Francis greets seminarians during his General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, Feb. 26, 2014. Giulio Napolitano

Philadelphia, Pa.(CNA/EWTN News).- The number of seminarians at Philadelphia’s St. Charles Borromeo Seminary is on the rise, and rector Bishop Timothy Senior says Pope Francis’ visit has been a positive influence on the seminarians.

“With 167 seminarians, we’re very excited and not only just the numbers but just extraordinary young men, candidates that really reflect the rich diversity of our region,” Bishop Senior told CBS Philly.

There are 43 new seminarians at St. Charles Borromeo this year, 11 of whom are enrolled for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

The enrollment is seminary’s largest since 2004. The bishop credited Pope Francis’ 2015 visit for influencing some of the seminary candidates. The Pope stayed at the seminary campus during his visit.

“I really do believe it sort of freed them up to speak more openly about their desire to be priests because the Holy Father’s example has made the priesthood more attractive,” he said.

One seminarian, Griffen Schlaepfer of Yardley, Penn., entered the seminary after a year at Pennsylvania State University. He cited the influence of others in motivating him to discern a vocation.

“My friends and family recognized it in me and saying ‘Wow, I can really see that as a path for you’ even when I didn’t see it in myself,” he told CBS Philly.