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Typical new US priest: 34-year-old who prays Rosary, takes part in Eucharistic adoration

June 09, 2017

The typical member of the priestly ordination class of 2017 is a 34-year-old cradle Catholic, according to a recently released survey of 444 of the 590 men slated to be ordained to the priesthood in the United States this year. The survey was conducted for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.

The typical ordinand also prayed the Rosary and regularly took part in Eucharistic adoration before entering seminary, according to the survey.

77% of the men were preparing for the diocesan priesthood, with the largest ordination classes in Paterson, NJ (13 men), St. Paul and Minneapolis (11), and Wichita (10). Among religious ordinations, the Jesuits (27 men), Dominicans (12), and Capuchin Franciscans (8) have the largest ordination classes.

25% of the ordinands are foreign born, with the most typical foreign countries of birth being Mexico (4%), Vietnam (3%), the Philippines (2%), and Colombia (2%). On average, these foreign-born seminarians have lived in the United States for 12 years and arrived in the US at age 25.

A disproportionately high percentage of ordinands attended a Catholic elementary school (50%), Catholic high school (41%), or Catholic college (40%).

In addition, a disproportionately high percentage were home schooled: 8% were home schooled, typically for eight years, at a time when less than 2% of US children were educated at home. If one assumes that all of the homeschooled seminarians came from the United States, then 11% of US-born ordinands were home schooled.

Among the survey’s findings:

  • the typical diocesan ordinand lived in his diocese for 16 years before entering seminary
  • 70% of ordinands are white, 14% are Latino, 10% are Asian, and 4% are black
  • 7% are converts, with the average age of reception into the Church being 21
  • 35% have a relative who was a priest or religious
  • in 80% of cases, both parents were Catholic
  • 5% have served in the US Armed Forces; 12% had a parent with a military career
  • 69% prayed the Rosary, and 77% regularly participated in Eucharistic adoration, before entering the seminary
  • ordinands typically first began to consider the priesthood at 16
  • 70% were encouraged by a parish priest to consider a vocation; 45% were encouraged by a friend, 44% by a parishioner, 40% by their mother, and 32% by their father. The average ordinand received encouragement from four people.
  • 7% were discouraged by a priest from considering a vocation; 11% were discouraged by their fathers, 13% by their mothers, and 23% by other family members
  • ordinands, on average, have three siblings, with only 4% being only children
  • 42% are the oldest children in their families; 23% are the youngest
  • 43% had earned their undergraduate degree before entering seminary, and 16% had earned a graduate degree
  • 57% worked full time before entering seminary
  • 48% took part in a parish youth group, 31% took part in Boy Scouts, and 23% took part in the Knights of Columbus or Knights of St. Peter Claver
  • 15% took part in a World Youth Day, and 13% took part in a Franciscan University of Steubenville summer conference
  • 75% had served as altar servers, 52% as readers, and 43% as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion before entering seminary


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  • Posted by: feedback - Jun. 09, 2017 6:56 PM ET USA

    Thanks be to God! This is great set of data, and it's important that it comes from a USCCB survey. No one should be surprised with these statistics. However, back in the 1970's and 80's many dioceses had completely different preferences in recruitment of candidates to "modern priesthood," followed by moral and financial mega disaster. With these new priests there is new hope for the Catholic Church. These men need our prayerful support.