WASHINGTON (May 3, 1999) -- Hispanic, Asian, African-American and Native American men comprise a quarter of the men slated for ordination in 1999, according to a survey of ordinands by the Life Cycle Institute at The Catholic University of America.
In addition, almost 20 percent of the class were born outside the United States.
Sociologist Dean Hoge, Ph.D., who conducted the survey, reported that "ten percent of the ordinands are Hispanics (Latinos), a figure higher than in recent years" but "lower than the percent Hispanic in the total U.S. Catholic population." Hispanics are estimated to comprise 25-30 percent of the U.S. Catholic population.
He also noted that "nine percent are Asian or Pacific Islanders, a figure higher than the percentage in the total U.S. Catholic population (an estimated 2-3 percent)."
"Also two percent are African-American, which is less than the percentage African-American in the U.S. Catholic population (estimated at 3 to 4 percent)."
Ordinands range from 25-year-old recent college graduates to 60-year-old grandfathers.
One-quarter are under 30, and 54 percent are under 35. Eight percent are 50 or older.
Catholic education appears to have a significant impact on the choice for priesthood.
"The levels of Catholic schooling are much higher for ordinands than is true of the total U.S. Catholic population," said Hoge. Among the ordinands "63 percent reported attending a Catholic elementary school and 51 percent attending a Catholic high school." Those figures are higher than reports of Catholic school attendance in a 1993 Gallup national survey of Catholics 54 and under. The latter survey found 54 percent had attended Catholic elementary school and 26 percent, a Catholic high school.
The Survey of 1999 Priestly Ordinations was released in May by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Vocations, which commissioned it. Dioceses surveyed included those which belong to the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors and religious orders. Responses came from 175 of the 193 dioceses surveyed and 85 of the 254 religious orders surveyed.
More than 50 percent of the respondents completed a bachelor's degree before entering the seminary, and 20 percent had earned higher degrees. Three percent are lawyers and one percent medical doctors.
The lawyers report a variety of law backgrounds. Gary Padgett, 43, of the Archdiocese of Louisville, was a U.S. Department of Justice attorney. Christopher Nalty, 36, of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, combined law and master of business administration degrees. Manuel Padilla, 42, of the Archdiocese of Chicago, practiced law in his native Mexico. Robert McClory, 35, of the Archdiocese of Detroit, holds both a law degree from the University of Michigan and a Master of Public Administration degree from Columbia University. Nicholas Harding, 46, of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston, Texas, worked as a legal services attorney for seven years. Terry Brennan, 44, of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico, was county attorney for Santa Fe County. Joseph Everson, 37, of the Catholic Foreign Mission Society -- Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, was a missionary in Peru. Matthew Furey, 36, of the Archdiocese of New York, was an attorney with the Legal Aid Society.
One of the doctors, Christopher Kubat, 42, of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, practiced urology for seven years. John O'Neill, 42, of the Diocese of Knoxville, Tennessee, is a vascular surgeon.
James Vick, 42, of the Knoxville Diocese, is a dentist.
In some dioceses, most of the class was born outside the United States. In the Archdiocese of Newark, for example, there are 16 ordinands, five born in the United States and the others born in Mexico, South Korea, Dominican Republic, Trinidad, Poland, England, Vietnam, Tanzania, the Philippines or Malta. The Divine Word Missionaries, a religious order, will ordain five men, two from Vietnam, two from Indonesia and one from Poland.
Five percent of the Class of '99 nationwide were born in Vietnam, including Cuong Phan, 37, of the Diocese of San Jose, California, who escaped the country by boat with his family when he was 13.
The class includes both professional and amateur sportsmen. Joseph Campbell, 49, of the Knoxville Diocese, was a professional wrestler who once won the heavyweight championship in his league. Charles Kelly III, 39, of the Diocese of Sacramento, California, was a professional golfer. Jesuit Robert Kroll, 33, who will be ordained for the Jesuits' Wisconsin Province, worked as a tennis instructor. Leo Patalinghug, 28, of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, was a martial arts instructor.
Several report a military background. Brian Christiensen, 33, of the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota, graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy and piloted a B-1 bomber. Joseph Betschart, 34, of the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, was a nuclear engineer in the U.S. Navy. Stephen Schreiber, 35, of the Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania, is a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Native American Dana Pelotte, 53, of the religious Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, earned a Bronze Star in Vietnam.
About 18 percent of the men worked in education before ordination. Jonathan Woodhall, 59, of the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, holds a doctorate and established a boarding school for boys, Woodhall School in Bethlehem, Connecticut, in 1982. Paul Clogen, 67, of the Diocese of Portland, Maine, was a professor of English Literature for 35 years and a senior Fulbright-Hays Post-Doctoral Fellow. Mark Cunningham, 51, of the Diocese of Albany, New York, taught in the public school system. Of the 26 Jesuits being ordained in the United States, 18 cite teaching experience.
Many have proven leadership qualities. Michael Franzen, 56, of the Diocese of Crookston, Minnesota, who owned his own business, was president of his local Chamber of Commerce. David Deuppen 32, of the Archdiocese of Miami, was an Eagle Scout. Peter O'Rourke, 58, of the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania, a widower with three children and two grandchildren, was a Knights of Columbus Grand Knight. Frank Schuster, 27, of the Archdiocese of Seattle, was a peer minister at the University of Washington Neuman Center, where he assisted the center in raising $1 million for a new chapel. Sidney Speaks, 28, of the St. Joseph's Society of the Sacred Heart, was president of the Black Seminarians Association. Some, such as Jerome Kloutnik, 32, of the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois, cited Peace Corps service.
Eight of the nine ordinands from Lincoln, Nebraska, are under 30 and entered before completing their bachelor's degree. In Philadelphia, six of the ten ordinands are under 30, and six entered before completing their bachelor's degree.
A few grandfathers are among the group. Ralph Boisvert, 59, of the Diocese of Portland, Maine, who owned a manufacturing firm, is father of three and grandfather of two.
In some instances priesthood runs in the family. Daniel Fraser, 65, of the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio, a widower with nine children and a deacon for 25 years, has a son slated to be ordained in 2000 in Detroit. Dana Pelotte, of the Blessed Sacrament order, will be ordained by his twin brother, Bishop Donald Pelotte of Gallup, New Mexico.
Men under 30 cited a variety of work experience. Patrick Winslow, 29, of the Albany Diocese, was a chemist. David Rizzo, of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania, was a lifeguard. Joseph Schrage, 27, of the Diocese of Belleville, Illinois, was a farm hand. Gary Benz, 27, of the Diocese of Bismarck, North Dakota, worked with the disabled. Thomas Holloway, 29, of the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, worked at Walt Disney World.
Anthony Sejba, 26, of the Diocese of Cleveland, was a laborer. Paul Ballien, 29, of the Archdiocese of Detroit, was a medical technician. James Gross, 25, of the Diocese of Fargo, North Dakota, was a disc jockey. Jason Lefor, 28, of the Fargo Diocese, was a dairy farmer. Mark LeDoux, 25, of the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, worked in sales. Robert Copeland, 27, of the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan was an accountant. Ryan Lewis, 25, of the Archdiocese of Omaha, was a waiter. Charles Klamut, 25, of the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, was a grocery store clerk. Mark Moriarty, 26, of the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis, worked in landscaping.