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Ordination Class of 2003

 

Report on Survey of 2003 Priestly Ordinations
by Dean R. Hoge
Life Cycle Institute, Catholic University, May 1, 2003


In February Father Edward J. Burns of the U.S. Bishops' Office on Vocations asked if the Life Cycle Institute could assist the Committee on Vocations on a survey of men ordained to the priesthood in 2003. I met with Father Burns to design a questionnaire. In February Father Burns sent a short questionnaire to each diocese and religious community asking if one of its staff could list the names of the men ordained in 2003, and either complete an online questionnaire on each or ask the men themselves to do so.

After some days of phoning and reminding, Father Burns achieved 348 completions by the March 31 deadline (306 ordinands to the diocesan priesthood and 42 to the religious priesthood). A graduate student, Patrick Lynch, and I computerized the data under Father Burns's direction.

The questionnaire asked eighteen questions about the ordinand's age, background, education, work experience, activities, hobbies, recognitions, and experience with vocation efforts. We continued using the codes we constructed in 2001 and 2002, for the sake of continuity.

One question asked for "principal full-time work experience," and since many questionnaires listed more than one, we coded up to two per person. Below is a summary of the questionnaires. All numbers are percentages unless noted.

TABLE 1: AGE

Diocesan Religious All
27 7 25 Percent 25-29
27 24 27 Percent 30-34
18 17 18 Percent 35-39
20 33 22 Percent 40-49
5 12 6 Percent 50-59
3 7 4 Percent 60+
36.2 41.3 36.8 Mean Age

NOTE: A total of 305, 42, and 347 ordinands, respectively, responded. The percentages shown are of these numbers and add up to 100% within a column.

TABLE 2: RACE

Diocesan Religious All
70 55 68 European American
15 7 14 Hispanic or Latino
8 29 11 Asian of Pacific Islander
1 2 1 African-American
6 7 6 Other

NOTE: A total of 303, 42, and 345 ordinands, respectively, responded. The percentages shown are of these numbers and add up to 100% within a column.

Table 2 shows that 14 percent of the ordinands are Hispanics (Latinos), a figure higher than in recent years. For example, a 1984 nationwide survey of Catholic seminarians (Hemrick and Hoge, 1987) found that 7 percent were Hispanic. Still the figure is lower than the percent Hispanic in the total U.S. Catholic population today (estimated at 25 to 30 percent).

Table 2 also shows that 11 percent are Asian or Pacific Islanders, a figure higher than the percent in the total U.S. Catholic population (an estimated 2 to 3 percent; see Davidson, et al., 1997, p. 161). Also, only one percent is African-American, which is lower than the percentage of African-Americans in the U.S. Catholic population (estimated at 3 to 4 percent; see Davidson, et al., p. 159).

TABLE 3: COUNTRY OF BIRTH
Diocesan Religious All
73 60 72 USA
0 2 * Canada
1 5 2 West Europe
1 2 1 Central America
2 0 2 Africa
3 0 2 Poland
1 0 1 Ireland
3 19 5 Vietnam
4 5 4 Phillippines
1 0 1 Korea
7 0 6 Mexico
1 0 1 Colombia
1 2 1 Caribbean, Puerto Rico
1 0 1 Peru
2 5 2 Other countries

NOTE: A total of 306, 42, and 348 ordinands, respectively, responded. The percentages shown are of these numbers and add up to 100% within a column.

* Less than ½ percent.

Table 3 tells us that only 72 percent of the ordinands were born in the U.S., and 28 percent were born outside. When this research began in 1998, the figure was 24 percent. The percentage born outside the U.S. has risen. The two principal countries of birth are Vietnam and Mexico.

TABLE 4
HIGHEST EDUCATION BEFORE ENTERING SEMINARY

Diocesan Religious All
1 5 2 Elementary
20 12 19 High School
5 5 5 Trade/Technical
45 38 44 Undergraduate
29 41 30 Graduate

NOTE: A total of 305, 42, and 347 ordinands, respectively, responded. The percentages shown are of these numbers and add up to 100% within a column.

TABLE 5
ANY CATHOLIC EDUCATION?

Diocesan Religious All
66 74 67 Percent who attending Catholic elementary school
55 52 55 Percent who attended Catholic high school
60 48 58 Percent who attended Catholic college

NOTE: A total of 229, 31, and 260 ordinands, respectively, mentioned any Catholic education. The percentages shown are of these numbers and do not incorporate those ordinands who did not mention any Catholic education. The percentages of all ordinands (348) are 50, 41, and 44, respectively.

The levels of Catholic schooling are much higher for the ordinands (Table 5) than is true of the total U.S. Catholic population. For example, in a 1993 nationwide Gallup survey, 54 percent of Catholics 54 or younger reported that they had attended Catholic elementary school and 26 percent said they had attended Catholic high school. The percent 35 to 54 years old who had attended Catholic college was only 10. (See D'Antonio, et al., 1996, p. 71.)

TABLE 6
PRINCIPAL FULL-TIME WORK EXPERIENCE
Diocesan Religious All
16 15 16 Educator: teacher, administrator, guidance
6 8 6 Skilled or unskilled labor
7 5 6 Sales, real estate
3 3 3 Church ministry: parish admin., relig. educator
7 10 8 Manager, supervisor, high govt. official
9 5 9 Banking, finance, broker, accountant
9 8 8 Engineer, computer programmer
4 0 3 Military
4 3 3 Scientific assistant, technician
5 5 5 Nursing, phys. therapist, paramedic
2 5 2 Clerk, bank teller
2 8 2 Attorney
3 0 2 Govt. worker
3 0 3 Artist, musician, photographer
2 0 2 Counselor, psychologist
1 3 1 Social worker
2 0 2 Legal assistant, paralegal
1 0 1 Scientist
2 3 2 Reporter, editor, writer
1 3 1 Physician, dentist
12 20 13 Other

NOTE: Only 203, 30, and 233 ordinands, respectively, mentioned full-time work experiences. Some mentioned more than one, so we coded up to two experiences. The percentages shown are of the total work experiences reported which were 246, 40, and 286, respectively. Percentages add up to 100% within a column.

TABLE 7
HOBBIES AND EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
Diocesan Religious All
34 38 35 Running
31 23 30 Cycling
35 28 35 Hiking
29 31 29 Camping
51 44 51 Sports
79 77 78 Reading
28 41 29 Writing
68 54 66 Movies
34 33 34 Theater
13 8 13 Opera
26 26 26 Play a musical instrument
7 13 7 Acting
58 62 58 Exercise
24 18 23 Fishing
29 36 30 Cooking
8 3 7 Hunting
8 10 8 Painting
53 59 54 Music
26 33 27 Volunteering
5 5 5 Sailing
7 3 7 Woodworking
27 26 27 Other

NOTE: A total of 303, 39, and 342 ordinands, respectively, mentioned hobbies. The percentages shown are of these numbers and do not incorporate those ordinands who did not mention any hobbies.

TABLE 8
ACADEMIC RECOGNITIONS

Diocesan Religious All
16 16 16 Summa Cum Laude
30 28 30 Magna Cum Laude
6 8 6 Valedictorian
3 0 3 Salutatorian
72 60 71 Dean's List
6 0 5 Phi Beta Kappa
37 44 38 Other Honor Society

NOTE: A total of 199, 25, and 224 ordinands, respectively, mentioned academic recognitions. The percentages shown are of these numbers and do not incorporate those ordinands who did not mention any academic recognitions. The percentages of all ordinands (348) are 10, 19, 4, 2, 46, 3, and 24, respectively.

TABLE 9
STATE/NATIONAL AWARDS OR RECOGNITIONS

Diocesan Religious All
29 55 36 Academic Honor Roll/Dean's List
15 18 16 National Honor Society
9 9 9 National Merit Scholar
47 18 40 Other

NOTE: A total of 34, 11, and 45 ordinands, respectively, mentioned state/national awards or recognitions. The percentages shown are of these numbers and add up to 100% within a column. They do not incorporate those ordinands who did not mention any state/national awards or recognitions. The percentages of all ordinands (348) are 5, 2, 1, and 5, respectively.

TABLE 10
ORGANIZED SPORTS TEAMS IN HIGH SCHOOL OR COLLEGE

Diocesan Religious All
"YES" TO ORGANIZED SPORTS:


54 46 53 High School
22 26 23 College




SPECIFIC SPORTS TEAMS:


21 12 20 Baseball
9 0 8 Golf
31 6 28 Football
31 59 34 Basketball
29 29 29 Soccer
8 0 8 Wrestling
34 24 33 Track and Field
1 6 1 Lacrosse
10 12 11 Tennis
12 24 13 Swimming

NOTE: A total of 301, 39, and 340 ordinands responded to the question of high school sports, and 293, 39, and 332 ordinands responded to the question of college sports, respectively. A total of 154, 17, and 171 ordinands, respectively, mentioned specific sports teams. The percentages shown are of these numbers and do not incorporate those ordinands who did not mention any organized sports teams or activity.

TABLE 11
SERVICE IN THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES

Diocesan Religious All
ORDINANDS:


10 50 13 Army
3 50 6 Reserves
33 0 31 Navy
7 0 6 National Guard
40 50 41 Air Force
10 0 9 Marines




FATHERS OF ORDINANDS:


26 33 27 Army
4 0 4 Reserves
43 0 38 Navy
22 33 23 National Guard
9 33 12 Air Force

NOTE: A total of 30, 2, and 32 ordinands, mentioned their own military service, and a total of 23, 3, and 26 ordinands, mentioned their fathers' military service, respectively. The percentages shown are of these numbers and do not incorporate those ordinands who did not mention any military service. Ordinands may have selected more than one military branch. (Ordinands specified only fathers as having served in the military.) The percentages of all (348) ordinands are 1, 1, 3, 1, 4, and 1 for their own military service, and 2, less than ½, 3, 2, and 1 for their fathers' military service, respectively.

TABLE 12
VOCATION EFFORTS YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED

Diocesan Religious All
VOCATION PROGRAMS:


2 0 2 Traveling Cup/Cross Program
13 16 13 Grade School or CCD Vocation programs
5 0 4 Operation Andrew
12 11 12 High school vocations programs
40 42 40 Come and See Weekends
18 13 18 Parish vocation programs




PARISH PROGRAMS:


66 57 65 Eucharistic minister
36 49 38 Youth minister
73 73 73 Altar server
67 73 68 Lector
22 22 22 Parish council
53 22 50 Knights of Columbus
10 3 9 Men's Club
21 19 21 Boy Scouts
6 8 6 Serra Club
5 0 5 Eagle Scouts
5 11 6 Rosary Society
13 3 11 St. Vincent de Paul Society
19 11 18 Right to Life
47 38 46 Devotions
59 68 60 Retreats

NOTE: A total of 298, 38, and 336 ordinands, mentioned vocation programs, and 294, 37, and 331 mentioned parish programs, respectively. The percentages shown are of these numbers and do not incorporate those ordinands who did not mention any vocation efforts.

TABLE 13
WHO INITIATED A CONVERSATION WITH YOU
ABOUT CONSIDERING THE PRIESTHOOD?

Diocesan Religious All
80 59 78 Priest
9 9 9 Religious Brother
16 9 16 Religious Sister
3 3 3 Youth Minister
26 26 26 Friend
14 9 14 Parishioner
8 6 8 Teacher
12 18 12 Seminarian
4 0 3 Deacon
1 0 1 Military Chaplain
15 12 15 Mother
9 12 9 Father
2 0 2 Grandfather
6 3 6 Grandmother

NOTE: A total of 273, 34, and 307 ordinands, respectively, mentioned conversations with individuals. The percentages shown are of these numbers and do not incorporate those ordinands who did not mention any conversations. Ordinands may have selected more than one individual.

TABLE 14
ADVERTISING TECHNIQUES WHICH WERE INSTRUMENTAL FOR YOU

Diocesan Religious All
30 43 31 Advertisements
7 5 6 Billboards
43 10 38 Posters
17 24 18 Websites
49 62 50 Pamphlets
4 10 5 Radio Ads
11 14 11 TV Ads
44 52 45 Magazines
30 38 31 Newsletters
12 24 14 E-mails
28 19 26 Videos

NOTE: A total of 138, 21, and 159 ordinands, respectively, mentioned advertising techniques. The percentages shown are of these numbers and do not incorporate those ordinands who did not mention any advertising techniques. The percentages of all ordinands (348) are 14, 3, 18, 8, 23, 2, 5, 21, 14, 6, and 12, respectively.

We found three changes in the ordinands since the research began in 1998. First, the average age at ordination rose from 34.8 to 36.8 years. Second, the level of education prior to entering seminary rose. Whereas in 1998, 30 percent had less than a B.A. or B.S. degree, in the 2003 sample it was only 21 percent. Correspondingly, the percentage who had received a Masters Degree or professional degree beyond the B.A. rose from 13 to 30. This is a notable change in only five years. Third, the percentage born outside the U.S. rose from 24 to 28 percent. The two principal countries of birth today are Vietnam and Mexico, in agreement with past studies.

The 2003 questionnaire included a series of questions asking the ordinands about their own experiences with vocation programs. (See Tables 12, 13 and 14.) The vocation encouragement most often remembered was personal contact, especially by a priest, friend, or seminarian. Second most common were retreat programs. Most of the ordinands have a history of activity in parishes (see Table 12), and the form of activity was usually as altar servers, lectors, and Eucharistic ministers. Of various methods in use to encourage vocations, the most effective are pamphlets and magazines (Table 14).


References

D'Antonio, William V., James D. Davidson, Dean R. Hoge, and Ruth A. Wallace. Laity American and Catholic (Kansas City: Sheed and Ward, 1996).

Davidson, James D., et al. The Search for Common Ground: What Unites and Divides Catholic Americans (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 1997).

Hemrick, Eugene F., and Dean R. Hoge. Seminary Life and Visions of the Priesthood: A National Survey of Seminarians (Washington, DC: National Catholic Educational Association, 1987).

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