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Typical new priest: 32-year-old cradle Catholic who prays Rosary, takes part in Eucharistic adoration

May 02, 2013

The typical member of the priestly ordination class of 2013 is a 32-year-old cradle Catholic who has three or more siblings and prayed the Rosary regularly before entering seminary, according to a survey of 366 of the 497 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.

31% of the ordinands are foreign born, with the most typical foreign countries of birth being Mexico (5%), Vietnam (3%), Colombia (3%), Poland (2%), the Philippines (2%), and Nigeria (2%). On average, these foreign-born seminarians have lived in the United States for 14 years and arrived in the US at age 24.

A disproportionately high percentage of ordinands attended a Catholic elementary school (42%), Catholic high school (42%), or Catholic college (44%). In addition, a disproportionately high percentage were home schooled: 4% were home schooled, typically for seven years, at a time when less than 2% of US children were educated at home. If one assumes that all the homeschooled seminarians came from the United States, then 6% of US-born ordinands were home schooled.

Among the survey’s findings:

  • the median age of ordinands is 32; the mean age, 35.5
  • the typical diocesan ordinand lived in his diocese for 18 years before entering seminary, though 15% had lived in their diocese for less than a year before entering seminary
  • 67% of ordinands are white, 15% are Latino, 10% are Asian, and 5% are black
  • 9% are converts, with the average age of reception into the Church being 24
  • 34% have a relative who was a priest or religious
  • in 81% of cases, both parents were Catholic
  • 4% have served in the US Armed Forces; 13% had a parent who spent his career in the military
  • 68% regularly prayed the Rosary, and 62% regularly participated in Eucharistic adoration, before entering the seminary
  • ordinands typically first began to consider the priesthood at 16
  • 67% were encouraged by their parish priest to consider a vocation; 46% were encouraged by a friend, 38% by a parishioner, 34% by their mother, and 22% by their father
  • 19% were discouraged by a priest from considering a vocation; 30% were discouraged by their fathers, 28% by their mothers, 43% by other family members
  • 20% have five or more siblings, 10% have four siblings, 22% have three siblings, 24% have two siblings, 21% have one sibling, and 3% have no siblings
  • 40% are the oldest children in their families
  • 63% had earned their undergraduate degree before entering seminary, and 23% had earned a graduate degree
  • 62% worked full time before entering seminary
  • 47% took part in a parish youth group, and 35% took part in Boy Scouts
  • 20% took part in a World Youth Day, and 11% took part in a Franciscan University of Steubenville summer conference
  • 67% had served as altar servers, 55% as readers, and 46% as extraordinary ministers of the Holy Communion before entering seminary


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