New Priests in the USA: Older and More Conservative


While much of the world’s  attention is focused on sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University  has just released a report about the U.S. Catholic ordination class of 2010.

The vast majority (92 percent) of men being ordained to the priesthood this year report some kind of full-time work experience prior to entering the seminary. Most of them in education. Three in five (60 percent) of these new priests completed a college degree before pursuing the priesthood, and one in five (20 percent) has done advanced graduate study.

Nearly one-third (31 percent) of the ordination class of 2010 was born outside the United States, the largest numbers coming from Mexico, Colombia, the Philippines, Poland and Vietnam. Between 20 and 30 percent of ordinands to the diocesan priesthood for each of the last 10 years were born outside the United States.

Two thirds report regularly praying the rosary (67 percent) and participating in Eucharistic Adoration (65 percent) before entering seminary.

The average age of ordinands for the Class of 2010 is 37. More than half (56 percent) are between the ages of 25 and 34. This is approximately the same as it was in 2009 and consistent with the average age of ordination classes for the last five years. Eleven are being ordained to the priesthood at age 65 or older.

This analysis is part of The Class of 2010: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood, an annual national survey of men being ordained priests, conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), a Georgetown University-based research center. The entire report can be found at www.usccb.org/vocations/classof2010, as well as on the new www.ForYourVocation.org which is set to launch on April 25, Good Shepherd Sunday and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. The survey was commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

“One important trend evident in this study is the importance of lifelong formation and engagement in the Catholic faith,” said Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. He noted that, along with their education and work experience, half to three-quarters of the Class of 2010 report they served as an altar server, lector, Eucharistic minister or other parish ministry.

“Most ordinands have been Catholic since birth,” said Cardinal O’Malley, “Four in five report that both their parents are Catholic. Almost eight in 10 were encouraged to consider the priesthood by a priest. This speaks to the essential role the whole Church has to play in fostering vocations.”

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