(ICN) The average age of men in the USA ordained to the priesthood in 2013 is 32; (on average over the past six years seminarians have been getting slightly younger) two-thirds are Caucasian, and 26 percent carry educational debt.
These figures stand out in The Class of 2013: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood, the annual national survey of men being ordained priests for US dioceses and religious communities. The study was conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), a Georgetown University-based research center.
The report is the 17th annual survey of ordinands commissioned by the Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). About 74 percent of an estimated 500 men to be ordained priests in the United States in 2013 responded to the survey.
On average, most of the ordination class were baptized as infants, but nine percent became Catholic later in life. Eight in ten report that both parents are Catholic, and more than a third have a relative who is a priest or religious.
On average, respondents report that they were nearly 17 years old when they first considered a vocation to the priesthood. Two in three (67 percent) say they were encouraged to consider a vocation to the priesthood by a parish priest. Others who encouraged them include friends (46 percent), parishioners (38 percent) and mothers (34 percent).
Two-thirds of the respondents (67 percent) report their primary race or ethnicity as Caucasian/European American/white. Compared to the US adult Catholic population, men to be ordained are more apt to be of Asian or Pacific Islander background (10 percent), but less likely to be Hispanic/Latino (15 percent). Compared to diocesan ordinands, new priests for religious orders are less likely to report race or ethnicity as Caucasian/European American/white.
Three in 10 respondents (31 percent) were born outside the United States, with the largest numbers coming from Mexico, Vietnam, Colombia, Poland, the Philippines and Nigeria. On average, respondents who were born in another country have lived in the United States for 14 years. Between 20 and 30 percent of respondents for the diocesan priesthood for each of the last ten years were born outside the United States. [More]