Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic World News

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

April 26, 2023

The typical member of the priestly ordination class of 2023 is a 33-year-old cradle Catholic, according to a newly released survey of 334 of the 458 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.

81% of the men were preparing for the diocesan priesthood, with the largest number of responses coming from seminarians in the Diocese of Arlington (eight), the Archdioceses of Cincinnati and Miami (seven each), and the Diocese of Dallas (seven). Among members of religious communities, the largest number of respondents came from the Benedictines (six) and Capuchin Franciscans (four).

31% of the men attended seminaries in the South, 31% at seminaries in the Midwest, 17% at seminaries in the Northeast, 13% at seminaries in the West, and 7% at seminaries abroad.

25% of the ordinands are foreign born, with the most typical foreign countries of birth being Mexico (5%), Nigeria (3%), Vietnam (3%), and Colombia (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 (43%), Catholic high school (34%), or Catholic college (35%).

In addition, a disproportionately high percentage were home schooled: 11% were home schooled, typically for eight years, at a time when 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 16 years before entering seminary
  • the typical religious ordinand knew members of his religious institute for five years before entering seminary
  • 64% of ordinands are white, 16% are Latino, 10% are Asian, and 6% are black
  • 7% are converts, with the average age of reception into the Church being 22
  • 33% have a relative who was a priest or religious
  • 84% of the time, both parents were Catholic
  • 4% have served in the US Armed Forces; 12% had a parent with a military career
  • 66% regularly prayed the Rosary, and 75% regularly participated in Eucharistic adoration, before entering the seminary
  • ordinands typically first began to consider the priesthood at 16
  • 63% were encouraged by a parish priest to consider a vocation; 44% were encouraged by a parishioner, 40% by a friend, 37% by their mother, and 29% by their father.
  • 48% were discouraged by someone from considering a priestly vocation. 6% were discouraged by a priest; 10% were discouraged by their fathers, 10% by their mothers, 21% by other family members, and 21% by a friend
  • ordinands, on average, have three siblings; 21% have five or more siblings, and 4% have no siblings
  • 36% are the oldest children in their families; 25% are the youngest
  • 58% had earned their undergraduate degree before entering seminary, and 16% had earned a graduate degree
  • 52% took part in a parish youth group, 27% took part in Catholic campus ministry, 25% took part in Boy Scouts, 23% took part in a parish young adult group, 23% took part in the Knights of Columbus or Knights of St. Peter Claver, and 13% in a pro-life group
  • 9% took part in the charismatic renewal, and 3% in Cursillo
  • 15% took part in a Franciscan University of Steubenville high school youth conference, 11% took part in a World Youth Day, 8% in a FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) SEEK conference, and 10% in a National Catholic Youth Conference
  • 72% had served as altar servers, 51% as readers, 40% as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, and 33% as catechists before entering seminary
  • 49% participated in a “Come and See” weekend before entering seminary


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