The numbers of men entering English seminaries to become Catholic priests have hit a ten year high.
A total of 56 men began training for the priesthood in September this year, the National Office of Vocation said. That was up on the 49 who started the process to become priests in 2009.
The rise coincided with the four-day visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Britain.
Catholic leaders put the rise in applicants down to outreach programmes which were leading young men to ask questions about what was important in life to them.
Many dioceses and religious orders now run discernment groups for young men and women where all vocations are discussed.
Fr Christopher Jamison, Director of the National Office of Vocation, said: “When everybody in the Church takes seriously Newman’s insight that ‘God has created me to do him some definite service,’ then a greater number discover their call to the priesthood and religious life.”
The news also comes a week after five Church of England Bishops announced that they were defecting to the Catholic Church and two months after the first visit of a pontiff to British soil since Pope John Paul II in 1982.
Pope Benedict XVI spent four days in Britain in September and the Church believes that trip will inspire others to train to become priests next year.
Fr Stephen Lanrgidge, Chairman of the Vocations Directors of England and Wales, said: “The number of people responding to the call of Christ to be priests and religious has been rising slowly but surely, and may rise further as people respond to the visit of Pope Benedict.”