USA: analysis of those entering priesthood in 2010

Who is entering the priesthood in 2010 America? In the run-up to Vocations Sunday, results of a new survey of men being ordained priests, has been conducted by the Centre for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), at Georgetown University.  It reveals that the vast majority (92 percent) of  American men being ordained to the priesthood report some kind of full-time work experience prior to entering the seminary, most often in education. Three in five (60 percent) ordinands completed college before pursuing the priesthood, with one in five (20 percent) also receiving a graduate degree. One in three (34 percent) entered the seminary while in college.

The median age of ordinands is 33. The youngest member of the Class of 2010 is 25; 11 men are being ordained at the age of 65 or older. On average, men were 18 when they first considered their vocation.

 The entire report: The Class of 2010: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood, can be found at:, as well as on the new which is set to launch on April 25, Good Shepherd Sunday and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. The survey was commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

“One important trend evident in this study is the importance of lifelong formation and engagement in the Catholic faith,” said Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, chairman of the US Bishops' Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. He noted that, along with their education and work experience, half to three-quarters of the Class of 2010 report they served as an altar server, lector, Eucharistic minister or other parish ministry.

“Most ordinands have been Catholic since birth,” said Cardinal O’Malley, “Four in five report that both their parents are Catholic. Almost eight in 10 were encouraged to consider the priesthood by a priest. This speaks to the essential role the whole Church has to play in fostering vocations.”

The survey had a response rate of approximately 77 percent of the 440 potential ordinands reported by theologates, houses of formation, dioceses, and religious institutes. They included 291 men being ordained for dioceses and 48 for religious orders, such as the Jesuits, Dominicans and Franciscans.

In other findings, CARA reported:

    * Close to two in five (37 percent) have a relative who is a priest or religious.
* Two thirds report regularly praying the rosary (67 percent) and participating in Eucharistic Adoration (65 percent) before entering seminary.

    * More than half of ordinands (55 percent) report having more than two siblings, while one-quarter (24 percent) report having five or more siblings. Two in five (38 percent) are the oldest child in their family.

    * Seven in 10 report their primary race or ethnicity as Caucasian/European American/white (70 percent). Compared to the adult Catholic population of the United States, ordinands were more likely to be Asian or Pacific Islander (10 percent of responding ordinands), but less likely to be Hispanic/Latino (13 percent). Compared to diocesan ordinands, religious ordinands are less likely to report their race or ethnicity as Caucasian/European American/white.

    * Nearly one-third (31 percent) of the ordination class of 2010 was born outside the United States, the largest numbers coming from Mexico, Colombia, the Philippines, Poland and Vietnam. Between 20 and 30 percent of ordinands to the diocesan priesthood for each of the last 10 years were born outside the United States.

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