USCCB News Release
May 6, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Many Foreign-Born, Men in Thirties Among 2008 New Priests
WASHINGTON—Many men in their thirties and many foreign-born are among the U.S. priests slated for ordination in 2008. This continues the trend of recent years. The average age is 36 for newly ordained diocesan priests and 39 for newly ordained men in religious orders, such as the Jesuits and Dominicans. About 30 percent of new priests are between 25 and 29 years of age. About 39 percent are in their thirties.
One-third of this year's new priests were born outside the United States, with the largest numbers coming from Mexico, Vietnam, Poland, and the Philippines. The percentage of foreign-born is nearly the same in 2008 as in 2007 (32 percent compared to 31 percent), but has increased from the 22 percent reported in 1999. On average, ordinands born in another country have lived in the United States for 13 years.
The data were gathered for "The Class of 2008: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood" by the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). The annual survey was prepared for the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life & Vocations. The entire report can be found at www.usccb.org/vocations/classof2008.
"We are blessed with the enthusiasm the newly ordained will bring to the mission of the Church," said Cardinal Sean O'Malley, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. "We pray that through their good work and example more men will generously respond to the Lord's call to serve as priests."
The report reflects a response rate of approximately 84 percent of the 401 potential ordinands reported to CARA. These 335 ordinands include 242 ordinands to the diocesan priesthood and 77 ordinands to the religious priesthood. Another 16 ordinands did not specify whether they were being ordained to diocesan or religious priesthood.
CARA also found
- Most ordinands have been Catholic since birth, although close to one in ten (9 percent) became Catholic later in life.
- Half of responding ordinands (51 percent) attended a Catholic elementary school, as have almost half (49 percent) of all Catholic adults in the United States. However, ordinands are somewhat more likely than other U.S. Catholic adults to have attended a Catholic high school and they are much more likely to have attended a Catholic college.
- Ordinands were active in parish ministries before entering the seminary, with between about half and three-quarters indicating they served as an altar server, lector, and/or Eucharistic minister in their parish.
Compared to all U.S. adult Catholics, ordinands to the diocesan priesthood are more likely than the overall U.S. adult Catholic population to be African/African American/Black. Ordinands to the religious priesthood are more likely than the U.S. adult Catholic population to be Asian/Pacific Islander.
Asian/Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian ordinands are over-represented among diocesan and religious order priests, relative to their proportion of the U.S. adult Catholic population, while Hispanic/Latinos are somewhat under-represented. Asians/Pacific Islanders constitute 3 percent of U.S. Catholics overall but are 12 percent of responding ordinands. By contrast, Hispanics/Latinos constitute approximately 35 percent of U.S. adult Catholics (CARA poll of U.S. adult Catholics, 2006) but only 16 percent of responding ordinands.
Vietnam and Mexico are the two most frequently mentioned countries of birth among responding ordinands who were born outside the United States. The ordinands identified a total of 31 different countries of origin.
Among those who became Catholic later in life, the average age at their conversion was 20. Ordinands who converted from another faith tradition or denomination are about evenly divided among those who came from a mainline Protestant tradition (Episcopalian, Lutheran, Anglican, United Church of Christ), those who came from an evangelical or conservative Protestant tradition (Church of Christ, Baptist, non-denominational Christian), and those who were raised without a faith tradition. Three ordinands converted to Catholicism from Judaism.