Ordination Class of 2017: Encounter, Encouragement, Active Parish Life, Are Key Factors in Discernment Process, Answering the Call

May 24, 2017 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—According to the Center for Applied Researchin the Apostolate's (CARA) annual survey, 82 percent of the 2017 class of menordained to the priesthood were encouraged by about four people in their livesincluding parish priests, friends or other parishioners. The report also saysthat ordinands were, on average, 16 years old when they first considered avocation to the priesthood, and religious ordinands reported they knew themembers of their religious institute an average of six years beforeentering.

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR, of Newark, chairman ofthe U.S. bishops' Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, notesthat the CCLV Committee has commissioned this annual study since 1998. Itremains part of the ongoing work of the CCLV to highlight various ways that vocations tothe priesthood have been and can be encouraged. The CCLV website features resourcesthat are available for vocations promotion throughout the United States.

"A staggering number of the 2017 ordination classreport to have been encouraged by others to consider a priestly vocation,"Cardinal Tobin said. "That statistic should motivate all the faithful to besensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit, who may wish to use them to extendthe invitation to ordained ministry."

The total number of potential ordinands for the classof 2017, 590, is slightly up from 548 in 2016 and down from 595 in 2015.

The Georgetown University-based Center for AppliedResearch in the Apostolate gathered the data for "The Class of 2017: Survey ofOrdinands to the Priesthood." CARA collects the data annually for the U.S.bishops' Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. Approximately 75percent of the 590 potential ordinands reported to CARA. These 444 respondentsinclude 343 ordinands to the diocesan priesthood, from 140 different diocesesand archdioceses, and 101 ordinands to the religious priesthood.

The full report can be found online: www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/ordination-class/index.cfm.

Among the survey's major findings:

On average, they lived in the diocese or eparchy forwhich they will be ordained for 16 years before entering seminary.

″ The average age for the Class of 2017 is 34. Since1999, the average age of responding ordinands has decreased by approximatelytwo months each year, from an average of 36 in 1999 to the current average ageof 34.

″ Seven in ten ordinands are Caucasian and three infour were born in the United States. One in four respondents were born outsidethe United States, with the largest numbers coming from Colombia, Mexico, thePhilippines, Poland and Vietnam. On average, respondents born in anothercountry have lived in the United States for 12 years.

″ Most ordinands have been Catholic since infancy, andeighty percent report that both of their parents are Catholic and more than athird (35 percent) have a relative who is a priest or a religious. The averageage of conversion was 21, among those who became Catholic later in life.

″ Nearly half completed college (43 percent) beforeentering the seminary. One in six (18 percent) entered the seminary with agraduate degree. The most common fields of study for ordinands before enteringthe seminary are theology or philosophy, liberal arts, and business.

″ Nearly half of responding ordinands (between 40 and50 percent) attended a Catholic school for at least some part of theirschooling, and 59 percent participated in a religious education program intheir parish for an average of seven years.

″ About six in ten ordinands (57 percent) report sometype of full-time work experience prior to entering the seminary, most often ineducation. One in twenty ordinands report prior service in the U.S. ArmedForces. About one in eight ordinands (12 percent) report that either parent hada military career in the U.S. Armed Forces.

″ Four in five (75 percent) indicate they served as altarservers and about half (52 percent) report service as a lector. Forty sevenpercent of responding ordinands reported participating in "Come and See" weekendsat their seminary or religious institute.

″ About seven in 10 report regularly praying therosary (73 percent) and participating in Eucharistic adoration (77 percent)before entering the seminary.

″ About half (51 percent) indicated that they werediscouraged from considering the priesthood by at least one individual, mostcommonly a friend, classmate or family member other than parents.


Keywords: ordination, class of 2016, Bishop Michael F.Burbidge, priesthood, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Center forApplied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), Secretariat for Clergy, ConsecratedLife and Vocations, diocesan priesthood, religious life, USCCB

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MEDIA CONTACTNorma Montenegro FlynnO: 202-541-3202