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Typical new priest: 31-year-old cradle Catholic who comes from large family, prays Rosary

May 21, 2012

The typical member of the ordination class of 2012 is a 31-year-old cradle Catholic who prayed the Rosary and took part in Eucharistic adoration before entering seminary, according to a survey of 304 of the 487 men slated to be ordained to the priesthood in the United States this year. The survey was conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.

Among the survey’s findings:

  • the median age of ordinands is 31; the mean age, 35
  • the typical diocesan ordinand lived in his diocese for 16 years before entering seminary, though 12% had lived in their diocese for less than a year
  • 71% of ordinands are white, 15% are Latino, 9% are Asian, and 3% are black
  • 6% are converts
  • 37% have a relative who was a priest or religious
  • in 84% of cases, both parents were Catholic
  • 47% attended a Catholic elementary school, and 45% attended a Catholic college; 3% were home schooled
  • 6% have served in the US Armed Forces; 21% had a parent who spent his career in the military
  • 68% regularly prayed the Rosary, and 65% participated in Eucharistic adoration, before entering the seminary
  • ordinands typically first began to consider the priesthood at 17
  • 68% were encouraged by a priest to consider a vocation; 41% were encouraged by their mother, and 31% by their father
  • 29% are foreign born, with the most typical foreign countries of birth being Vietnam (5% of all ordinands), Colombia (5%), Mexico (4%), Poland (3%), and the Philippines (2%); on average, foreign-born seminarians have lived in the United States for 12 years and arrived in the US at age 22
  • 28% have five or more siblings, 10% have four siblings, 17% have three siblings, 25% have two siblings, 16% have one sibling, and 4% have no siblings
  • 45% had earned their undergraduate degree before entering seminary; an additional 16% had earned a graduate degree
  • 53% took part in a parish youth group
  • 22% took part in a World Youth Day, and 11% took part in a Franciscan University of Steubenville summer conference
  • 75% had served as altar servers, and 57% as readers, before entering seminary


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