New Priests in U.S.: Older, and More From Abroad

Survey Tracks Trends Since 1998

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WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 14, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. ordination class of 2005 continues to reflect a trend toward older, better-educated men with a large percentage born in foreign countries, according to a new survey.

The survey was reported by sociologist Dean Hoge, who heads the Life Cycle Institute of the Catholic University of America.

He wrote the report after considering trends in ordination classes since 1998 and comparing them with data on the men being ordained in 2005.

«The average age at ordination rose from 34.8 to 37.0,» Hoge said.

«The level of education prior to entering the seminary rose,» he added. «Whereas in 1998, 30% had less than a B.A. or B.S. degree, in the 2005 sample only 28% had less than a B.A. or B.S. degree.»

«The percentage who had received a master’s degree or a professional degree beyond the B.A. rose from 13 to 32. This is a notable change in only seven years,» Hoge reported.

«The percentage born outside the U.S. rose from 24 to 27%,» he added. «The four principal countries of birth today are Vietnam, Mexico, Philippines and Poland.”

Hoge based his “Report on Survey of 2005 Priestly Ordination” on results of a survey conducted by the U.S. episcopal conference’s vocations office.

By the March 31 survey deadline there were 286 responses, 251 from diocesan ordinands and 35 from ordinands in religious congregations. Not all dioceses and religious orders responded.

Half of the diocesan ordinands are under age 35.

For 2005, the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis have the largest number of ordinands with 16 and 15 men, respectively.

Six percent of the ordinands are converts to the Catholic faith. The range of age at conversion is from 11 to 35.

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