Ordination Study Gives Hope for Vocations in United States

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The release of the study of the Ordination Class of 2020 reveals a great sign of life and hope in the Church in the United States, despite the midst of uncertainty in the world brought by the Coronavirus pandemic. At a moment when the faithful are prone to despair and struggle with the sadness of not having the sacraments available, and the public celebration of the Mass suspended, this profile of the 2020 Ordination Class is a ray of light. It is a tangible sign of God’s continued care for His Church. As a part of its mandate, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations sponsors an annual survey, in conjunction with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), of the members of the current year’s Ordination Class. Each of the men to be ordained in the coming months shows the loving work of God to sustain His Church through the calling of new priests to minister His saving Sacraments and preach the Good News. The survey shows a wide variety of men from varied backgrounds who have all responded to God’s call to serve His people. Below is a summary of the results of the findings of the CARA study.

This year, 77% of the 448 identified members of the Ordination Class of 2020 responded to the survey. Of those responding, 82% will be ordained to the diocesan priesthood and 18% will be ordained to the priesthood for an institute of religious life or society of apostolic life. Some of the major findings of the report are:

•  The average age of the Ordination Class of 2020 is 34 years old. On average, the respondents were 16 years old when they first considered the priesthood.
•  Two-thirds of the respondents (67%) are Caucasian; one in six (16%) is Hispanic/Latino; one in ten (10%) is Asian/Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian; one in twenty (6%) is African/African American/black.
•  The four most common countries of birth among those foreign-born are Mexico, the Philippines, Nigeria, and Colombia.
•  Between 35% and 44% of all respondents attended a Catholic school for at least some part of their schooling.
•  Seven in ten respondents (72%) participated in Eucharistic Adoration on a regular basis before entering the seminary, a similar proportion (70%) prayed the rosary, more than two in five (44%) attended prayer group/Bible study, and two in five (38%) participated in high school retreats.
•  Seven in ten respondents (73%) served as altar servers before entering the seminary. Half (50%) served as lectors. Four in ten (40%) served as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.
• Nine in ten respondents (89%) were encouraged to consider the priesthood by someone in their life, most frequently a parish priest, friend, or another parishioner.

The full CARA report and profiles of the Ordination Class of 2020 can be found at http://cms.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/ordination-class/index.cfm.

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