Study of never-married Catholics gives insight into future of vocations
In a survey of Catholics age 14 and older, about 12 percent of males and 10 percent of females said they considered a religious vocation at least “a little seriously,” a study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University found.
The findings, released Oct. 9, give church leaders a vast array of data on which to base positive messages about religious life for teenagers and young adults, said Father Shawn McKnight, executive director of the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which commissioned the survey.
“When you consider 12 percent of all male youth and 10 percent of all women … just a very small percentage (committing to a vocation) would make a tremendous difference,” Father McKnight told Catholic News Service.
“The survey offers solid evidence, credible evidence to base our judgments on how to promote vocations,” he added.
Broken down, 3 percent of male respondents and 2 percent of female respondents indicate they have “very seriously” considered a vocation, according to the study, “Consideration of Priesthood and Religious Life Among Never-Married U.S. Catholics.” It was commissioned by the USCCB secretariat.
Projected over the Catholic population of the United States, those figures represent 350,000 never-married men and more than 250,000 never-married women who may have very seriously considered a vocation, concluded CARA researchers Mark Gray and Mary Gautier, who conducted the study.
In the United States, there are 39,718 priests, 17,816 deacons, 4,518 brothers and 55,045 sisters, according to the 2012 edition of the Official Catholic Directory.
The study involved 1,428 people, about 65 percent of those invited to participate. It was conducted online. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.
The data collected in the survey shows that personal relationships with adults — parents, teachers, clergy, men and women religious, and campus ministers especially — can be a key factor in whether a young person considers a religious vocation.
Fewer than 10 percent of the respondents said, however, that anyone ever encouraged them to consider religious life. Among those who did receive encouragement, both males and females were nearly twice as likely to consider entering religious life, according to the study. [More]