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July 6, 2014

Six ordained as priests in Okla.

TULSA — The recent ordination of six men as Catholic priests in Oklahoma has Catholic leaders in the state hoping that a decline in priest candidates might be ending.

The Diocese of Tulsa ordained one priest during spring while the Archdiocese in Oklahoma City ordained five June 28, the most since 1991 when six were ordained in Oklahoma City. As recently as 2012 there were none.

“Normally we ordain about two a year,” said the Rev. Elkin Gonzalez, director of the vocations office in the Tulsa Diocese, which covers the eastern half of Oklahoma, told the Tulsa World.

He said no ordinations are scheduled for next year in the Tulsa diocese but said there are others scheduled for ordination in 2016.

And the Rev. Stephen Hamilton, head of the archdiocese’s vocations office and pastor of St. Monica Catholic Church in Edmond, said the five ordained in Oklahoma City look to be the start of a surge in new priests in the archdiocese.

Hamilton told The Oklahoman that three seminarians are in the “priestly pipeline” to be ordained next year.

Hamilton said several challenges face men considering the Catholic priesthood, including a culture that believes money, fame, power and influence are the attributes of success.

“It can be countercultural to get a man to consider it,” Hamilton said.

He said the vow of celibacy doesn’t appear to be as much an issue as some might think.

The reasons men decide to become priests “always remain a mystery,” he added.

Christopher Brashears, 33, of Weatherford, one of the five men ordained in Oklahoma City, said his decision puzzled some of his buddies at Oklahoma State University.

“It was a mixed bag because some of them understood. Other guys said, ‘Why? Why would you want to do that? You won’t have a family. It will be all the time God, God, God,”’ Brashears said.

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