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Typical new priest: 31-year-old who prays Rosary, takes part in adoration

April 26, 2011

The typical member of the ordination class of 2011 is a 31-year cradle Catholic who prayed the Rosary and took part in Eucharistic adoration before entering seminary, according to a survey of 329 of the 480 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, 34
  • for diocesan ordinands, the mean age is 30; for religious ordinands, it is 36
  • the typical diocesan ordinand has lived in his diocese for 15 years
  • 69% are white, 15% are Latino, 10% are Asian, and 5% are African-American
  • 33% were foreign born, with the typical foreign-born ordinand entering the US in 1998 at age 25; the most typical countries of origin were Colombia, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, and Vietnam
  • 52% of religious ordinands are foreign-born
  • 8% are converts, with the typical convert entering the Church at age 25
  • 60% had completed college before entering the seminary
  • 47% attended a Catholic elementary school, 39% attended a Catholic high school, and 39% attended a Catholic college; 4% were homeschooled
  • 34% have a relative who was a priest or religious
  • in 82% of cases, both parents were Catholic
  • 37% have four or more siblings; 16% have three siblings
  • 94% had a full-time job before entering the seminary
  • 8% served in the military, and 19% had a parent with a career in the military
  • 66% were encouraged by a parish priest to consider a vocation; 42% were encouraged by their mother, and 27% by their father
  • 52% were discouraged by a parent from considering a vocation; 20% were discouraged by a priest, and 8% were discouraged by a religious
  • ordinands typically first began to consider the priesthood at 16
  • 48% took part in a parish youth group, 30% participated in Boy Scouts, and 23% participated in the Knights of Columbus before entering the seminary
  • 21% attended World Youth Day, and 8% attended a Franciscan University of Steubenville high school youth conference
  • 71% served as altar servers, and 55% served as readers at Mass
  • 70% prayed the Rosary and 65% took part in Eucharistic adoration before entering the seminary

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    • Posted by: - Apr. 26, 2011 11:02 PM ET USA

      Yes, these statistics do give me hope for a renewed priesthood -- especially the stats on praying the Holy Rosary and Adoration. Perhaps in another generation or so these changes will bear fruit in a different collection of American bishops -- and a Mass with less back slapping during the Sign of Peace and less guitar playing -- and more Latin Masses in the Extraordinary Form accompanied by Sacred Music. Well, at least I can hope.

    • Posted by: koinonia - Apr. 26, 2011 4:09 PM ET USA

      Prayer is so critical to the life of the priest, especially these days. It's a good thing that the Rosary and Eucharistic adoration are not foreign to these young men. They will certainly need to continue these devotions as priests, no matter the work load, and there is reason for hope for the future. Now, if we can just get that number (480)into the thousands.

    • Posted by: jdieterich616502 - Apr. 26, 2011 1:53 PM ET USA

      None of this data should be a suprise to anyone in full-time ministry, particularly those working with youth and young adults.