Introducing the priests of the U.S. class of 2010

As it does every spring, the U.S. bishops’ conference has released the results of a survey of the men who, God willing, will be ordained to the priesthood this year in the United States.  

As those of you who read this column regularly are aware, I find statistics interesting and entertaining. Here are some of the more significant results from the 33-page report (available at bit.ly/8XoBPR) that was compiled by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.  

Of the class of 2010:  

  • The average age is 37.  
  • One in 10 is a Catholic convert.  
  • Twenty percent participated in a World Youth Day before entering the seminary.  
  •  More than 90 percent report some full-time work experience before entering the seminary, predominantly in the field of education.  
  • Half say that someone discouraged them from considering the priesthood (usually a friend, classmate, parent or other family member).  
  • Nearly a quarter report having five or more brothers and sisters.  
  • Nearly 40 percent are the oldest child in their family.  
  • Half attended Catholic elementary school and nearly 40 percent attended Catholic high school and college. About 3 percent report being home-schooled.  
  • Of those who reported some college education before seminary, 66 percent attended Catholic college. CARA reports that is significantly higher than the 7 percent of the U.S. Catholic population that did so.  
  • Close to two in five (37 percent) have a relative who is a priest or religious.  
  • Eight percent of diocesan seminarians have served in the military.  
  • Seventy-two percent had served as altar servers.  
  • Their top five most popular hobbies are listening to music, reading, movies, hiking and cooking. Ten percent are hunters, 15 percent play video games and 20 percent enjoy the opera and theater.  
  • Two-thirds report regularly praying the Rosary (67 percent) and participating in Eucharistic adoration (65 percent) before entering seminary.  
  • Seven in 10 report their primary race or ethnicity as Caucasian/European American/white (70 percent). Compared with the adult Catholic population of the United States, ordinands were more likely to be Asian or Pacific Islander (10 percent of responding ordinands), but less likely to be Hispanic/Latino (13 percent).  
  • Nearly one-third (31 percent) of the class of 2010 was born outside the United States, the largest numbers coming from Mexico, Colombia, the Philippines, Poland and Vietnam. Between 20 percent and 30 percent of ordinands to the diocesan priesthood for each of the last 10 years were born outside the United States.  
  • Eight in 10 (85 percent) report they have seen the “Fishers of Men” DVD produced by the U.S. bishops’ conference.