US Ordination Class Exhibits Cultural Diversity

Survey Shows Correlation of Catholic Education and Priestly Vocations

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WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 20, 2009 ( The U.S. ordination class of 2009 shows diversity in culture and background, including converts and men of all careers and ages, a survey reported.

Today the U.S. bishops’ conference reported the results from a national survey of priestly candidates, which was commissioned by the prelates and conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, a Georgetown University-based research center.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, chairman of the conference’s Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, observed: “These new priests reflect a tremendous dedication to the Church and show great promise. They reflect God’s blessing on our Church.”

Of the 2009 class, 11% are Asian, 12% are Hispanic, 3% are African American and 72% are Caucasian. These include 6% from Vietnam, 2% from the Philippines, 5% from Mexico and 1% from Colombia.

A quarter of the ordinands were born outside the country, with the largest numbers coming from Mexico, Vietnam, Poland and the Philippines.

The average age for the class is 36, with a range between 25 and 66 years of age.

One in ten of the men converted to Catholicism later in life, on average at age 21. They converted from diverse Protestant traditions, and five of them were raised without a faith tradition.

Several ordinands have brothers who are already ordained priests.


Speaking of the 465 ordinands reported by theologates, houses of formation, dioceses and religious institutes, Cardinal O’Malley continued: “Those who formed them in the faith both in their families and schools can be proud of their efforts. The Lord planted the seeds of their vocations, and the surrounding community helped them grow.”

Over half of the potential priests reported attending Catholic elementary school, which is a higher rate than that of all U.S. Catholic adults.

The ordinands are also more likely than other adult members of the Church to have attended a Catholic high school and college. Of the seminarians who had some college education before beginning their priestly training, 75% attended a Catholic college or university, compared to 7% of the entire adult Catholic population in the country.

Two-thirds of the class had full-time work experience before entering the seminary, with a variety of careers including attorneys, farmers, teachers, computer programmers, businessmen, policemen, doctors and politicians.

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