COLCHESTER, Vt. — “Edmundite priest” may not be high on the list of planned professions for Burlington High School graduates, but Michael Carter, the featured speaker of the Class of 2008, had been thinking about the priesthood since he was 12.

“I didn’t conceive of this as something that people still did anymore,” he said, standing outside the Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel after being ordained.

“I thought about it seriously in high school, but felt like I was too young to make a decision one way or another,” he said. Instead, he went to get a degree from St. Michael’s College, the home of the Society of St. Edmunds.

An ordination for the Edmundite order who make the campus their home is a rare occurrence: the last one was in 2014, and the one before that was in 1996.

Carter, 27, was ordained by Vermont Bishop Christopher Coyne, who also gave the homily.

The Catholic population in Vermont has been declining since the late 1970s.

In 1978, over a third of the state’s population – 161,710 people – was Catholic, and there were 104 parishes in Vermont, according to church records. And as fewer men enter the priesthood, some parishes share priests.

A 2014 Gallup poll named Vermont the least religious state in the country.

“It’s something that is ancient and old, and like every aspect of humanity, it’s had its issues in the past,” Carter said about the church.

“It’s an imperfect institution but we are just striving through a spirit of hope and love to maybe bring something better to the world.”

Carter, who teaches at St. Michael’s and assists at the campus ministry, said he knows he may not look like everyone’s idea of a priest.

But, he said, his youth gives him a chance to connect with students.

“This is something that’s important to me and meaningful to me,” he said. “I don’t want to be forceful on people, but I want to offer the invitation.”