New US priests are cradle Catholics from big families

He’s a 32-year-old cradle Catholic and former altar boy with three or more siblings. He had a full-time job after gaining an undergraduate degree, and regularly prayed the Rosary before entering the seminary.

This is a typical example of the 497 men being ordained to the priesthood in the United States this year, according to a survey conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.

According to the survey, 81 per cent of the new US priests came from families in which both parents were Catholic.

More than half said they had more than two siblings, while one in five reported having five or more siblings. Only 3 per cent of the sample were only children.

More than 40 per cent attended Catholic schools (but a disproportionately high proportion of 4 per cent were home schooled).

A high proportion of 67 per cent had served as altar servers, 55 per cent as readers, and 46 per cent as extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist before entering the seminary.

While 47 per cent said they had participated in a parish youth group, 20 per cent had attended a World Youth Day.

Nine per cent of the new US priests said they were converts.

Thirty-four per cent of the ordinands had a relative who is a priest or religious.

The survey found that 67 per cent were encouraged by their parish priest to consider a vocation; 46 per cent were encouraged by a friend, 38 per cent by a parishioner, 34 per cent by their mother, and 22 per cent by their father.

But 19 per cent were discouraged by a priest from considering a vocation; 30 per cent were discouraged by their fathers, 28 per cent by their mothers, and 43 per cent by other family members.

Nearly one third of the ordinands were born overseas, and 10 per cent were of Asian or Pacific Island origin.


United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

The Class of 2013 (Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate)

Image: Catholic Herald

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