13 June 2022, The Tablet

Georgetown survey finds more Latino and Asian ordinands

The Cara survey found that a quarter of new US priests are foreign born, largely form Mexico, Vietnam, Brazil, Colombia and India.

Georgetown survey finds more Latino and Asian ordinands

Ordinands of the Archdiocese of St Louis at their Mass of Ordination, 25 May 2019.
Jeff Geerling/Flickr | Creative Commons

Georgetown University’s Center for Advanced Research in the Apostolate (Cara) released its annual survey of ordinands, and found that the percentage of Hispanic and Asian seminarians being ordained priests continues to grow. In 2022, 22 per cent of all ordinands were Latino and 10 per cent were of Asian or Pacific Islander heritage. Latinos currently account for 45 per cent of the Catholic population in the United States, but the percentage grows to a majority among younger Catholics.

A quarter of the new priests – 26 per cent – are foreign born with Mexico, Vietnam, Brazil, Colombia and India yielding the most vocations.

The survey, which is conducted for the U.S. bishops’ conference, also found that the average age of those being ordained continues to drop, from 36 years in 1999 to 33 years today. The average ordinand first thought about becoming a priest at age 16.

Nine per cent of the respondents indicated that they had been home-schooled. The home-schooling movement has taken off in recent decades, mostly among conservative Catholic and evangelical families dissatisfied with public schools. A large minority of 39 per cent said they had attended a Catholic grade school and 42 per cent attended a Catholic college or university. In a sign that fewer and fewer priests attend minor seminary, 58 per cent had completed college before entering seminary. The vast majority – 92 per cent – were baptised as children and among those becoming Catholic later in life, the average age of their conversion was 19.

Most ordinands – 68 per cent – reported working in a full-time job before entering seminary, of whom 16 per cent worked in the field of education. Ordinands for religious orders were 14 percentage points more likely to have worked in education than those being ordained for service of a diocese. 

Nine in ten of the ordinands reported being encouraged to consider the priesthood as a vocation by someone in their family or circle of friends, while 48 per cent said someone discouraged them from pursuing a priestly vocation. Most were altar servers (74 per cent) and the same percentage reported participating in Eucharistic Adoration before entering seminary. Before entering seminary, 72 per cent said they had prayed the rosary and 46 per cent had participated in Bible study.

Cara identified 419 ordinands in 2022, of whom 317 responded to the survey. Of the respondents, 238 were being ordained to the diocesan priesthood and 79 to a religious order.

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