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The Church of England has reported a rise in the number of young people wanting to be ordained into the priesthood.
According to latest figures, the number of people under 32-years-old seeking ordination rose this year by around a third (32 per cent) to 169, compared to 128 in 2016.
There has been a 7 per cent rise in the total number of people recommended for ordination this year, up from 541 to 580.
Among those entering training this year is 21-year-old Ben Brady, who will start a three-year residential course at Ridley Hall in Cambridge, in September. His training follows a year-long placement with the Church of England's Ministry Experience Scheme working as a pastoral assistant in Moss Side and Whalley Range in Manchester.
He said: 'The experience I gained working as a pastoral assistant, leading services, preaching and helping with occasional offices such baptisms and funerals as well as visiting people in hospital has helped confirm my calling to the priesthood. The growing number of younger people entering training is a sign of hope for the future.'
Over half (54 per cent) of those entering ordination training this year are women - marking the second year in a row that they have made up the majority of recommended candidates.
Katharine Tingle, 25, from South Devon, also took part in the Church's Ministry Experience Scheme and will begin training for the priesthood at Queen's Foundation in Birmingham in September.
'The Church of England has made serious moves both at a national and a local diocesan level to take young vocations seriously,' she said.
The Church of England has made it a priority to double the number of candidates for ordination by 2020 and is taking the latest figures as a sign of progress.
Director of the Church of England's Ministry Division, Julian Hubbard, said: 'I am delighted that the Church of England has seen a rise in the number of vocations to the priesthood for the second year running. We are particularly pleased to see the increase in the number of young women and men entering training.
'We give heartfelt thanks for the prayers and the hard work of all in the churches and dioceses who have been involved in guiding these candidates along their journey and pray that God will continue to bless and guide them to build a growing Church for all people in all places.
This article was originally published in Christian Today and is re-published here with permission.