Newly Ordained Priest of Madison Diocese Profiled In MadisonMag

Andrew Showers was studying at a Catholic seminary in Rome in October 2014 when his grandmother died in Wisconsin.

Showers, a 2006 Madison La Follette High School graduate, was scheduled to help serve Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican the next day. It’s a big deal—the pope makes a point of meeting all those helping.

“The guys are kind of like 14-year-old girls at a Bieber concert,” Showers says.

When Showers had his moment, he said in the Italian language he was still learning, “Holy Father, my grandmother died yesterday. Will you pray for her?”

“Well, what is her name?” Pope Francis replied.

“It’s Ruth.”

“I will pray for her by name at Mass today,” the pope said.
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In the Madison Diocese, according to the Rev. Greg Ihm, vocation director, 25 men are at varying stages of formation as of fall 2017. When Ihm entered in 2002, he was one of just six.

“We’ve made a major improvement,” Ihm says, while noting that the large number of priests from earlier generations now retiring means their efforts need to continue.

The total number of priests in the U.S., however, has been declining. According to the Georgetown University Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, there were 58,632 U.S. priests in 1965, and in 2016 that number was 37,192. The research center also noted that the number of U.S. parishes without a priest in 2016 was 3,499.
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