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Clergy and Religious



There are 39,839 diocesan and religious-order priests in the
United States:

  • 26,979 diocesan priests
  • 12,389 religious-order priests (Jesuits, Dominicans, Franciscans, etc.)
  • 471 new priests ordained in 2012
  • 39,368 total number of priests in dioceses


There are 5,153 seminarians enrolled in the United States:

  • 3,441 enrolled in diocesan seminaries
  • 1,712 enrolled in religious-order seminaries

Permanent Deacons3

There are 18,121 men who have been ordained as permanent deacons in the United States.

Vowed Religious 4

  • Sisters: 52,557
  • Brothers: 4,459

Did you know?

  • The average age of men ordained to the priesthood is trending younger with the median age for the 2012 class at 31.Two-thirds of the class is between the ages of 25 and 34.5
  • Almost 3 in 10 ordinands were born outside the United States, with the largest numbers coming from Vietnam, Colombia, Mexico, Poland and the Philippines. On average, ordinands who were born in another country came to the United States in their early 20s. Between 20 and 30% of ordinands for the diocesan priesthood for each of the last ten years were born outside the United States. 6
  • Before entering the seminary, 6 in 10 ordinands completed college (61%).
  • 16% of ordinands entered the seminary with a graduate degree, and 1 in 3 or 29% entered the seminary while in college. 7

Religious Retirement

  • There are more than 500 religious orders in the United States, each participating in the mission of the Church through prayer and ministries of service.8
  • Traditionally, religious worked for modest stipends or maintenance that did not include pension benefits. 9
  • The average Social Security benefit for religious today is approximately $4,779;10 for other Americans, the average benefit is $13,968.11


1 The Official Catholic Directory 2013, General Summary.
2 Ibid.
4 Ibid.
5 Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, The Class of 2012,
Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood. Executive Summary.
6 Ibid.
7 Ibid.
8 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Frequently Asked Questions,
(accessed on 07/23/12)
9 Ibid.
10 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Religious
Retirement Office, Statistical Report, 2012.
11 Ibid.

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