Priesthood commercial gets credit for easing clergy shortage

Posted: Friday, December 07, 2001

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh is crediting a TV commercial for helping draw more men to the seminary.

The diocese, which ordained no priests in 1999, now has eight seminarians, its largest class in seven years.

The ad features the Rev. David Bonnar describing a priest as ''an ordinary man called to do extraordinary work.'' It first ran two years ago and has been picked up the archdioceses of Baltimore and Philadelphia.

Baltimore has had nine new candidates for the priesthood last year, the largest class in a decade. The commercial is part of Baltimore's wider effort to attract men to service, including a new full-time recruitment officer and a pop-up ad on America Online.

The Philadelphia archdiocese began using the Pittsburgh ads in January, running the spot during sports and other shows targeting males 16 to 45. Administrators say it's too soon to gauge the impact, but calls to Philadelphia's vocations office are up 30 percent this year.

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