Number of Students Choosing Priesthood on the Rise at A&M

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The Catholic Church says the number of men choosing to enter the Priesthood has been on the rise in recent years.

Church statistics show college seminary enrollment went up five percent in the past year.

Clergy members at St. Mary's Catholic Church at Texas A&M say they've noticed the same trend.

Brent Metzler is 20 years old, and he says his calling came while he was a freshman at A&M.

"Everything that everybody was telling me to do that was supposed to fulfill me. It just wasn't working," said Metzler.

Now, he's preparing for the priesthood at Saint Joseph's Seminary College in Covington, Louisiana.

"I thought I was going to have hundreds of kids for my family to play with when I got older," said Metzler. "But the more you pray about it, the more time you spend in silence, the more God kind of reinforces that call."

Clergy members say the number of Aggies choosing religious life has been steadily increasing for years. They usually average about 8 students year, but there are ten young men applying to seminaries this year.

Church leaders say St. Mary's tends to reflect trends in the church as a whole, because the A&M student population is so big. Statistics show 25% of the student body is catholic, which adds up to almost 13,000 students.

"We do think our numbers are on the high side of things," said Father David Konderla, St. Mary's Catholic Church.

Father David says that's thanks, in part, to church leaders actively promoting religious life to raise the question in students' minds early on.

"The more we can connect them to Jesus Christ who is the one who calls them, the more they are likely to respond to that call," said Father David.

Plus, seeing other students choose Priesthood year after year is contagious.

That's why Church officials say St. Mary's Catholic Center has become the model for other Catholic organizations at universities across the country.

Priesthood formation is a minimum of seven years if young man has college degree. It takes nine years if he starts as freshman in college.