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Typical new US priest: 33-year-old who prays Rosary, takes part in Eucharistic adoration

May 07, 2019

The typical member of the priestly ordination class of 2019 is a 33-year-old cradle Catholic, according to a recently released survey of 379 of the 481 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 regularly took part in Eucharistic adoration and prayed the Rosary before entering seminary, according to the survey.

75% of the men were preparing for the diocesan priesthood, with the largest number of responses coming from seminarians in the Archdioceses of Cincinnati and Washington (eight each), the Dioceses of Cleveland and Paterson (seven each), and the Archdioceses of St. Louis, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Newark, and Milwaukee (six each). Among members of religious communities, the largest number of respondents came from the Jesuits (16), Dominicans (11), and Legionaries of Christ (10).

25% of the ordinands are foreign born, with the most typical foreign countries of birth being Mexico (5%), Nigeria (3%), Colombia (2%), and Vietnam (2%). On average, these foreign-born seminarians have lived in the United States for 14 years and arrived in the US at age 22.

A disproportionately high percentage of ordinands attended a Catholic elementary school (47%), Catholic high school (39%), or Catholic college (38%).

In addition, a disproportionately high percentage were home schooled: 11% 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 nearly 15% of US-born ordinands were home schooled.

Among the survey’s findings:

  • the typical diocesan ordinand lived in his diocese for 18 years before entering seminary
  • 70% of ordinands are white, 14% are Latino, 8% are Asian, and 6% are black 11% are converts, with the average age of reception into the Church being 18
  • 34% have a relative who was a priest or religious
  • 77% of the time, both parents were Catholic
  • 5% have served in the US Armed Forces; 17% had a parent with a military career
  • 73% prayed the Rosary, and 75% regularly participated in Eucharistic adoration, before entering the seminary
  • ordinands typically first began to consider the priesthood at 16
  • 69% were encouraged by a parish priest to consider a vocation; 43% were encouraged by a friend, 39% by a parishioner, 38% by their mother, and 33% by their father. The average ordinand received encouragement from four people.
  • 45% were discouraged by someone from considering a priestly vocation. 6% were discouraged by a priest; 10% were discouraged by their fathers, 12% by their mothers, and 23% by other family members
  • ordinands, on average, have three siblings, with only 6% being only children
  • 38% are the oldest children in their families; 22% are the youngest
  • 55% had earned their undergraduate degree before entering seminary, and 15% had earned a graduate degree
  • 68% worked full time before entering seminary
  • 53% took part in a parish youth group, 30% took part in Catholic campus ministry, 28% took part in Boy Scouts, 21% took part in a pro-life group, and 21% took part in the Knights of Columbus or Knights of St. Peter Claver
  • 10% took part in the charismatic renewal, and 6% in Cursillo
  • 16% took part in a World Youth Day, 14% took part in a Franciscan University of Steubenville high school youth conference, 6% in FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students), and 5% in a National Catholic Youth Conference
  • 78% had served as altar servers, 53% as readers, 44% as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, and 38% as catechists before entering seminary

 


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