WASHINGTON (May 22, 2000) -- The ordination class of 2000 reflects both a wide ethnic variety and the influence of Catholic schools, according to a national survey of men about to be ordained Catholic priests.
The survey was released May 22, by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Vocations.
The survey found that 27 percent of the class identify themselves as coming from racial or ethnic backgrounds that are growing in numbers in the U.S. Church. Twelve percent are Hispanic, a slight increase from previous years; and nine percent are Asian, a high number given that Asians constitute just two to three percent of U.S. Catholics.
Sixty percent of the ordinands attended Catholic elementary school, a figure six percentage points higher than the percentage of Catholics 54 or younger who reported in a 1993 national Gallup survey that they attended a Catholic elementary school. Fifty percent of the class attended Catholic high school, almost twice the 26 percent of Catholic high school graduates identified in the Gallup survey.
The report was prepared for the Bishops' Vocations Committee by Dean R. Hoge, Ph.D., head of the Life Cycle Institute of The Catholic University of America. The committee received information from 133 of the 192 dioceses in the United States and 28 U.S. religious orders of priests.
The survey also found that 25 percent of the Class of 2000 are 29 years of age or younger, and 55 percent are 39 or younger. Nine percent are 50 or older. The median age is 36.
More than three-quarters of the class were born in the United States; six percent were born in Vietnam and another six percent in Mexico. Other countries of birth include Nigeria, Poland, Ireland, Philippines, Korea, and Colombia.
The size of ordination classes varies. The Paulist Fathers, who work with media, slated four men for ordination, including David Dwyer, 35, a TV director/producer.
The Jesuits, who operate high schools, colleges and universities across the nation, slated 15 men for ordination, including Mark Bandsuch, 38, once a corporate lawyer and now a member of the Jesuit Detroit Province.
Class sizes appear to reflect the nation's Catholic population shift with several men being ordained in dioceses in the South, where Catholics comprise 12 percent of the population. They comprise about 25 percent of the population nationally. However, today the Catholic population in the South is double what it was 50 years ago.
There were seven men slated for ordination in the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, which is three percent Catholic; twelve men in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, which is 6 percent Catholic; and six in the Diocese of Palm Beach, Florida, which is 16 percent Catholic.
Similarly, six men were to be ordained in the Archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky, which is 16 percent Catholic; six men in the Diocese of Mobile, Alabama, which is 5 percent Catholic; and five men in the Diocese of Memphis, Tennessee, which is 4 percent Catholic.
In the Midwest, where the Catholic population is larger, nine ordinations will take place in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis; eight in the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois; nine in the Archdiocese of Chicago; six in the Diocese of Bismarck, North Dakota; five in the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa; 5 in the Diocese of Fargo, North Dakota; five in the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin; and six in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
In the West, where the number of Catholics has increased by two and a half times in the past 50 years, six ordinations are planned in the Archdiocese of Denver. In addition, in the Diocese of Boise, Idaho, 3 ordinations are planned; Diocese or Spokane, Washington, 6; Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma, 5; the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, 6; the Diocese of Orange, California, 5; Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, 3; and the Diocese of Salt Lake City, where Catholics number 4 percent, 2.
In the Northeast, which has traditionally had large numbers of Catholics, 8 men were slated for ordination in the Archdiocese of Boston; 5 in the Archdiocese of Baltimore; 6 in the Diocese of Pittsburgh; 4 in the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania; and 6 in the Archdiocese of New York.
The ordinands represent a wide variety of backgrounds. Sixteen percent come from the field of education, including two elementary school teachers, Francisco Perez, 36, to be ordained for the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas; and George Jakopac, 31, to be ordained for the Baltimore Archdiocese. Another educator, Terry Wipf, 42, who taught music for seven years, will be ordained for the Bismarck Diocese.
Others bring background in health services, including Jeffrey Gatlin, 32, who worked four years as a chaplain with a hospice program and who is being ordained for the Louisville Archdiocese; and Dennis Bliss, 49, a psychotherapist and clinical director, who is being ordained for the Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio.
Several were born outside the United States, including Marco Antonio Ortiz Pablos, 29, who was born in Mexico and is to be ordained for the Los Angeles Archdiocese; and Jose Puente, 32, born in Mexico, and to be ordained there for the Archdiocese of San Antonio. Roman Shemayev, 28, of the Dominican order, was born in Russia. Stephen Folorunso, 35, was born in Nigeria and will be ordained for the Rockford Diocese. Grzegorz Cioch, 28, who was born in Poland, went to medical school there. He speaks five languages and will be ordained for the Denver Archdiocese.
Several were born in Vietnam, including Tuan Ahn Do, 27, who will be ordained for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, and Phung van Phung, 42, who will be ordained for the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa. Joseph Long Dinh, 41, who escaped Vietnam by boat and came to the United States as a refugee, will be ordained for the Charlotte Diocese, and John Tran, 28 , who also escaped Vietnam as a refugee, will be ordained for the Louisville Archdiocese.
Several can boast of educational achievements. Gladstone Stevens, Ph.D., 34, who will be ordained for the Louisville Archdiocese, earned scholastic honors both at Duquesne University and Marquette University. Joseph Goering, 31, who will be ordained for the Fargo Diocese, was a National Merit Scholar and an electrical engineer.
Many have been active in sports. Curt Kondik, 31, played basketball for the Padres, a seminary team which plays Cleveland celebrities in the Hoops for Hunger fundraiser. He will be ordained for the Diocese of Cleveland. Mark Lander, 26, who will be ordained for the Diocese of San Bernardino, California, worked as a lifeguard and was active in swimming and water polo. Andrew Webster, 28, a mechanical engineer in the automotive industry ran the 1999 Chicago marathon. He will be ordained for the Archdiocese of Detroit.
Patrick Van Durme, 34, a former Outward Bound instructor who worked in youth ministry, will be ordained for the Diocese of Rochester, New York. Daniel Seccomb, 40, a member of the Marist order, is a former Montana state champion in darts. Edwin Cipot, 44, who played professional baseball from 1974-1982, and was an actor from 1983-1993, will be ordained for the New York Archdiocese.
Many of the ordinands have military experience, including Andrew Lawrence, 30, of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa, who was in the Air Force and is slated to become an Air Force chaplain.
Several lawyers have been attracted to the priesthood, including Daniel Whalen, 45, an attorney and realtor, who is being ordained for the Pittsburgh Diocese; Darren Hazeur, 30, a member of the Josephite Order; Jerry Fenton, 67, who is being ordained for the St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese, and Michael Reid, 44, who is being ordained for the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Robert Cook, 59, who is being ordained for the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Some men are pursuing priesthood after several years in other careers. They include Frank Rouleau, 54, a psychotherapist, being ordained for the Diocese of Norwich, Connecticut; Michael O'Brien, 39, who was a rocket scientist for Martin Marietta, and is being ordained for the Denver Archdiocese; and Douglas McGonagle, 40, a research astronomer, who is being ordained for the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts. Nicholas Pavia, 40, who has been active in city and state politics in Connecticut, will be ordained for the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Several men reported work experience with media, including Paul Yuenger, 49, who has worked in TV production, radio production, and as a radio announcer, and will be ordained for the Diocese of Wheeling, West Virginia. Charles Wood, 39, also worked in media and wrote a documentary on African-American history of northern Indiana and southwest Michigan. He will be ordained for the Portland Archdiocese. Others include Robert Oliver, Ph.D., 39, who has worked as a radio announcer and high school teacher, and who is being ordained for the Boston Archdiocese; and Oscar Figueroa, 35, a radio broadcaster, to be ordained for the Diocese of Sacramento, California.
Some had careers in law enforcement, including David Shoemaker, 34, who worked in military and law enforcement, and will be ordained for the Diocese of Mobile, Alabama; Francis Hicks, 58, a special agent for U.S. Department of Justice for 23 years and a Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand, who will be ordained for the Los Angles Archdiocese; Frederick R. Harvey Jr., 37, a deputy U.S. Marshall, who will be ordained for the Bismarck Diocese; and Robert Grabner, 45, who served 15 years as a police officer, and who will be ordained for the St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese.
Three men have pursued priesthood after serving in other churches. David Naylor, 46, who will be ordained for the Louisville Archdiocese, and James McLelland, 53, who will be ordained for the Diocese of Shreveport, Louisiana, were ministers in the United Methodist Church. Jeff Gatlin, who is being ordained for the Louisville Archdiocese, was a Presbyterian chaplain.
For one man, Bernard F. Fraser, 28, who is being ordained for the Archdiocese of Detroit, priesthood has become a family tradition. His father, Daniel Fraser, a widower with nine children,was ordained last year for the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio.
One has made the Guinness Book of Records. Jan Krutewicz, 41, made the 1998 Guinness Book of Records for building the world's smallest telephone. He will be ordained for the Chicago Archdiocese.
Some are pursuing priesthood in their senior years. Larry Letourneau, 61, widowed and a former grocery store manager, will be ordained for the Diocese of Salina, Kansas; Joseph Esau Jacob, 77, an engineer, will be ordained for the Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana. John Jasper, 69, an architect, will be ordained for the Diocese of Baker, Oregon; and Albert Backmann, 62, a certified public accountant who sold his firm to enter the seminary, will be ordained for the St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese. Roland Nadeau, 64, a retired postal worker who has three children and one grandchild, will be ordained for the Diocese of Portland, Maine.
Some bring special talents to enhance their pastoral ministry. Michael Depcik, 30, an Oblate of St. Francis DeSales, for example, has been actively engaged in deaf ministry, and Christopher Kulig, 33, a Carmelite, knows sign language.
Others have been involved in youth work, including John Cichello, 33, a Glenmary Home Missioner, who was a district executive for the Boy Scouts of America.