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Most new U.S. priests ordained in 2024 will be 31 years old or younger


Most of the men scheduled to be ordained as priests in the United States in 2024 are 31 years old or younger, according to the latest research from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University.

The Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) commissioned the annual survey of ordinands to the priesthood.

A total of 392 ordinands completed the survey.  CARA says four in five respondents (83 percent) were from a diocesan or eparchy, and one in six respondents (17 percent) was a religious. The biggest group of responding ordinands (38 percent) is completing studies at one of the seminaries in the Midwest.

The statement from CARA listed some other characteristics of the Ordination Class of 2024, including:

— Two in three (67 percent) are Caucasian, one in five (18 percent) is Hispanic/Latino, one in ten (11 percent) is Asian/Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian and two percent are Black/African American.

— Of all new ordinands, a quarter (23 percent) are foreign-born.  By comparison, since 1999, on average, 28 percent of responding ordinands were foreign-born. After the United States, the most common countries of birth included: Mexico (5 percent), Vietnam (4 percent), Colombia (3 percent), and the Philippines (2 percent). On average, foreign-born responding ordinands came to live in the United States 14 years ago, at the age of 22.

— About one in ten responding ordinands (10 percent) were home-schooled, for an average of eight years.  Between 32 percent and 42 percent attended a Catholic elementary school, high school, or college. Three in five (60 percent) completed an undergraduate degree or a graduate-level degree before entering the seminary.

CARA also listed some of the factors that might have influenced the process of vocational discernment:

— Three in ten responding ordinands (29 percent) have or had a relative who is a priest or religious.

— Nine in ten responding ordinands (89 percent) reported being encouraged to consider the priesthood by someone in their life (most frequently by parish a priest, friend, or parishioner).

— Four in five responding ordinands (82 percent) reported that both their parents were Catholic when they were children.

— In regard to group activities, half of responding ordinands (51 percent) participated in a parish youth group before entering the seminary, as compared to 33 percent who participated in Catholic campus ministry, 28 percent who participated in Boy Scouts, and 24 percent who participated in the Knights of Columbus or Knights of Peter Claver.

— In regard to participation in parish ministries, seven in ten responding ordinands (71 percent) served as altar servers before entering the seminary, as compared to 48 percent who served as lectors, 41 percent who served as Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, and 32 percent who served as catechists.

The survey was initially developed by the t the Secretariat for Vocations and Priestly Formation (now the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations) of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) he Secretariat for Vocations and Priestly Formation (now the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations) of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in 1998 and has been administered online since 2005.

CARA assumed responsibility for the project in 2006, using the online survey developed by the Secretariat.



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