Being a protestant clergy convert to Catholicism, one who has yet to find any opportunity to serve within the Church apart from 'here, pass these out', I keep an eye open to any news about the phenomenon. I just noticed something, as I looked at a brochure regarding some conferences featuring 'Protestant Clergy Converts to Catholicism.' I noticed they're all, well, gray haired and graying. Think of the notable clergy converts. Can we think of any who don't have predominantly gray hair? Any who can't remember when Howdy Doody was prime time? Any who didn't come into the Church before 9/11?
I can't help but feel that the great tidal wave of Clergy converts, inspired by Pope John Paul II, and eased in by a crop of lay apostolates geared at making straight the paths into the Church, is dwindling. No new blood. Most of the significant names are people who seem to be within a singular set, a group, a clique. And no younger folks are coming in to light the way. I hear the same stats over and over (more than a thousand here or there), but given the hundreds of thousands of Protestant clergy around the world, that's not much. There are likely as many priests leaving the Church and embracing Protestantism as clergy becoming Catholic. I knew of several in my own ministry days. Far more in proportion than the Protestant Clergy I've found since I became Catholic.
All of this is to say the Church might want to step up to the plate and grab hold of what was there, because I can't help but get the feeling that it appears to be slowing. The appearance is there at least. Likewise, those who have carried the torch for the first great influx of Protestant clergy post PJPII into the Catholic Church may want to start priming a new generation to rise up and represent the movement as the world changes, the context of conversion changes, and the demands on an individual ready to leave it all for Mother Church changes. Just a thought.