The surge in priestly vocations after the martial law years in the Philippines has been stunted by consumerism and materialism among urban youth, vocation directors say.
Father Rolando Agustin, director of the Manila Archdiocese Vocations Office, said after a September vocation program that in recent years, young people in the metropolis have shown less interest in religious vocations.
He blamed “consumerism, materialism and hedonism” for this trend. Citing feedback he has received, he noted that the drop in the number of vocation applicants started in the 1990s when cable television, the Internet, mobile phones and pagers were introduced to the Manila area.
Father Agustin recalled that after a “people power” uprising deposed former president Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, there was a “surge” in vocations and “many entered the seminary.” The uprising was peaceful, with more than a million people heeding the call of Cardinal Jaime Sin of Manila for prayer vigils on EDSA to prevent soldiers for and against Marcos from clashing.
Father Agustin attributed the increase in vocations afterward to a “spiritual awakening” that accompanied the political and economic changes in the country. He said people realized “moral and spiritual change” were needed in the country, and Church officials including Cardinal Sin “played an important role” in society’s conversion.
The people “saw a connection between the life of the priest and their own lives,” according to Father Agustin.