About 3 weeks ago during the announcements during Mass the priest asked parents to fill out a survey as to why in the past 10 years the CCD programs has gone from 1000+ children to under 450 children participating. I didn't bother to fill out the survey since we aren't members of the parish, but even if we were I know that I wouldn't send my children to CCD. Why? Because after the dumbing-down of the curriculum and contrary-to-the-Faith teaching I have seen and heard about over the years, I don't trust the instructors. My kids have only attended CCD at St. Benedict's in Chesapeake, VA because I know how pious the teachers are, know that they use the Baltimore Catechism, and know that the other students are kids who come from good Catholic homes. When we go to the Novus Ordo Mass in Maine I am usually the only woman wearing a hat, my kids are the only ones not wearing shorts and flip flops, and we are certainly the only ones who receive Communion on the tongue. I know that these outward signs are not a indicator of holiness because I certainly sin more than I should, and the lack of these things are not a direct correlation to sinfulness, some of the parish families could be praying the rosary every night. But in general, those who take their religion seriously tend to be a bit more orthodox in their Mass attire and attitude toward the Blessed Sacrament.
That said, it didn't surprise me too much when just before the recessional yesterday morning, the priest at St. John's in Bangor made an announcement, "Father Tony (the Indian priest on loan to the diocese) will not be returning. With only 2 priests then covering 5 churches in the cluster parish, we cannot have 12 masses per weekend so some things are going to have to change."
The diocese of Portland, Maine has been headed by 2 very liberal bishops in the past 15 years. The leadership of liberal bishops leads to an increase in happy-clappy liturgy and a suppression of orthodoxy, such as the Traditional Latin Mass. Vocations do not occur in an environment where it is evident from all outward signs that the lay people do not take their faith seriously. Only when the liturgy, preaching, and the priest's attitude all convey a sense of love for God, a deep meaning of Him in our daily lives, and a cause for sacrifice are there genuine vocations to the priesthood and religious life. That is why our little parish in Virginia with all of 175 families has 4 men currently studying for the priesthood and the diocese of Portland, Maine has 69 priests stretched to the limit serving 139 parishes. My suggestion to increase vocations? Turn the priest around to face the Tabernacle, restrict servers to boys only, start preaching some serious homilies about sin and the need for holiness, ask the FSSP to send priests to say the TLM, and throw away all the fluff books used in CCD. Start from the ground up and teach people the Catholic Faith, encourage them to love Our Lord in recognizable Catholic practices, and challenge them to be more holy and I promise that Maine will see an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life.