Filipinos flock to church to be closer to God, but the country’s biggest churches still attract tens of thousands of mostly wealthy, white-collar Catholics who can afford to go to the Sunday mass and pay for meals.
Benedictine Benedictine College in Manila, one of the countrys top Catholic universities, has more than 1,500 students from around the world and more than 5,000 students from the Philippines.
Baptism is mandatory in the Catholic Church and more students at Benedictine are expected to become priests, according to the university.
At its peak, Benedictine had more than 10,000 members, said John C. Calvert, dean of the school.
But the university’s financial woes began a decade ago when Benedictine, which had an enrollment of 1,800 students in 2002, shut down its campuses and shut down the seminary.
The school’s budget is shrinking and students are increasingly paying for meals at the nearby Catholic seminary, he said.
Students pay $300 to $400 to attend a Mass, and about 10 percent of the tuition is used to pay for tuition, he added.
“It is not sustainable,” Calvert said.
“It is the norm in Catholic seminaries in the United States.”
After the shutdown, Benedictines began charging more for admission and, in some cases, a fee for admission.
The university had been able to maintain its enrollment but now only holds about 1,300 students, said Calvert.
While Benedictines continue to offer free admission to the general public, the cost to attend services has increased, and some schools are offering students more money, he told The Associated Press.
Catholic Church leaders are hoping that Pope Francis’ call for an “urgent renewal” of the Catholic faith will spur students to join the faith.
A Vatican document from 2016 urged Catholic schools to “rebuild their relationships with their parishioners” and said that “the church must be more involved in the lives of the faithful” to help them “reach out to each other, to build trust and to develop a better understanding of the Church.”
The Vatican has also released a series of recommendations on how to reform the church’s finances.
It said it wants schools to focus more on student recruitment, more on pastoral care, and to work with their pastors to improve worship and worship ministry.
In April, Benedict said he would take up his position as head of the Roman Curia, a position that was created to oversee the Vatican’s finances and finances, to help improve the financial situation of Catholic universities.