A Pressing Need

The Need

While fostering new vocations to the priesthood  is an urgent task for the twenty-first century, so too is the task of supporting those men already serving in priestly ministry. Priests need to receive, in addition to a solid seminary education, continuous nourishment to refresh, encourage and sustain them in their ministry. If they are to continue feeding the flock, shepherds must be fed as well. In the words of the Program for Priestly Formation, “The process and the journey of the ongoing formation of priests is both necessary and lifelong. Its purpose is not only the spiritual growth of the priest himself, but also the continued effectiveness of his mission and ministry.”
Feed My Sheep
John 21:17
In a faithful “yes” to this command of the Lord, priests in each generation have taken up the call to be shepherds of His people: to teach, to govern, and to sanctify… to offer their very lives for the life of the world, in union with Christ Himself and the Church He established. The gift of the Eucharist, source and summit of our faith, passes to every generation only by way of this personal “yes” uttered again and again in a chorus of loving obedience that extends throughout the ages.
In our own day, men who offer their “yes” to this call face unique challenges. While the Catholic population grows each year, the number of priests available to shepherd the faithful is decreasing. In the United States, for example, membership in the Catholic Church has risen almost 16% in the past thirty years, while the number of priests serving that membership has dropped nearly 20% in that same period. Many priests serve in more than one parish, and one in five parishes have no resident pastor. In such a situation, an already busy pastoral life can become extremely taxing for even the most energetic priest. In this context, providing priests with opportunities to be refreshed, strengthened and connected with their brothers in the priesthood is a vital need.


The plans for Christopher Inn International were first and foremost born of prayer and a sense of God’s call to provide a place of refreshment for His shepherds.

The beginnings of the call came in 1997, with the idea of serving the priests locally in the archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Christopher Inn, Inc. (CI) was established as a non-profit organization on February 22, 2000. As the vision for the project was shared with priests—locally, nationally, and internationally—clergy expressed universal enthusiasm for the project. By the end of 2003, the idea of making the Christopher Inn an international place for bishops and priests, located in Ireland, expanded the scope of the vision. Several years of prayer and discernment followed. In 2008, a core team developed to meet weekly for prayer and to discuss the business development of CI. In 2009, the vision for the project was presented to the Congregation for the Clergy at the Vatican, and supporting materials were delivered to the Congregation on June 19, 2009, as the Year for Priests began.

In June of 2011, The Christopher Inn International was established as a corporation in Ireland, and in the spring of 2012, the first two Programs for Priestly Renewal for Irish priests were hosted in western Ireland.

With the grace of God and the generosity of donors, we hope to be able to acquire property in the near future and open the doors of The Christopher Inn International, as a gift at the service of the Church’s priests.

To learn more about the development of this apostolate, visit our News & Resources page.


The Church Worldwide

(Changes from 2000 to 2012)


Catholic population 130,018,000 198,587,000 +53%
Priests, diocesan and religious 27,165 40,133 +48%
Catholic population 519,391,000 598,819,000 +15%
Priests, diocesan and religious 120,841 122,924 +2%
Catholic population 107,302,000 134,641,000 +25%
Priests, diocesan and religious 43,566 60,042 +38%
Catholic population 280,144,000 286,868,000 +2%
Priests, diocesan and religious 208,659 186,489 -11%
Catholic population 8,202,000 9,706,000 +18%
Priests, diocesan and religious 4,947 4,725 -4%
Catholic population 1,045,057,000 1,228,621,000 +18%
Priests, diocesan and religious 405,178 414,313 +2%

Source: Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate

Workforce for the Apostolate

As of December 31, 2017

CategoryWorldwideUSAUS % of Total

Bishops 5,487 508 9%
Priests, diocesan and religious 419,728 37,181 9%
Permanent Deacons 45,609 18,287 40%
Religious Brothers 52,625 4,007 8%
Religious sisters 659,445 45,605 7%
Total Catholics 1,299,000,000 74,300,0006%

Sources: Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate and catholic-hierarchy.org

U.S. Data on Catholics

  1965 1975 1985 1995 2005 2019

Diocesan priests 35,925 36,005 35,052 32,349 28,702 24,857
Religious priests 22,707 22,904 22,265 16,705 14,137 11,072
Total priests 58,632 58,909 57,317 49,054 42,839 35,929
Priestly ordinations 994 771 533 511 454 515
Graduate-level seminarians 8,325 5,279 4,063 3,172 3,308 3,526
Permanent deacons -- 898 7,204 10,932 14,574 17,397
Religious brothers 12,271 8,625 7,544 6,535 5,451 3,931
Religious sisters 179,954 135,225 115,386 90,809 68,634 42,441
Parishes 17,637 18,515 19,244 19,331 18,891 16,914
Parishes without a resident priest pastor 549 702 1,051 2,161 3,251 3,572
Catholic population 45.6m 48.7m 52.3m 57.4m 64.8m 64.9m
Percent of U.S. population that is Catholic 24% 23% 23% 23% 23% 21%

Sources: The Official Catholic Directory, CARA Catholic Ministry Formation Directory*
A gift on the part of laypeople to the Church's priests: a unique international destination offering refreshment, formation and fraternity for Catholic clergy.
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Christopher Inn, Inc.
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