On July 16 it will be my privilege to ordain three men to the priesthood for the Diocese of Dallas, they are: Deacons Alan Paul McDonald, Arthur Okwuchukwu Unachukwu and James Hideo Yamauchi. Please keep them in your prayers.
Our three ordinands are among 480 men being ordained to the priesthood in the United States in 2011. A survey of 329 of them by CARA (Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate) at Georgetown University was prepared for the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations of the USCCB. The survey gives us an idea of what sort men are being ordained to the priesthood this year.
Here are some of the high points of the survey:
• The average age is 34, slightly higher than in 2010.
• Most had lived in their diocese for about 15 years before entering the seminary.
• The majority are Caucasian/White (69), ten percent are Asian/Pacific Islander and 15 percent are Hispanic/Latino
• One third of the respondents are foreign-born with the largest number coming from Columbia, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland and Vietnam.
• Most are cradle Catholics but eight percent entered the Church later in life.
• The majority come from large families. Over half have two or more siblings and one fourth have five or more.
• Sixty percent completed college before entering the seminary and 17 percent had graduate degrees.
• About half (47%) attended Catholic elementary school. Thirty-nine percent attended Catholic High School or College, a number considerably higher than the national average of all adult Catholics which is 7 percent.
• Ninety-four percent held full- time jobs prior to entering the seminary. Less than 10 percent served in the military.
• Most (70%) prayed the Rosary and 65% participated in Eucharistic Adoration before entering the seminary.
• Most reported that they first considered a priestly vocation at 16. Two thirds (66%) were encouraged to enter the seminary by a priest and 71 percent were encouraged by a friend, a parent, grandparent, other relative or parishioner.
• Almost half were discouraged from entering the seminary by a friend, classmate, parent or family member.
• Only a few indicate that TV, radio, billboards or other vocational advertising was instrumental in their decision. One fourth says they were influenced by a website.
• Forty-two percent participated in a “Come and See” type weekend before entering the seminary.
• “Fishers of Men”, a DVD published by the USCCB had been viewed by 83 percent.
It is obvious that more mature men are entering the seminary having attended college and/or worked before making their decision even though their first call came as a teenager. Catholic education is an important factor.
Suport and encouragement by their family was particularly significant in their decisions.
Have you encouraged a potential priestly vocation in your family?