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In February Father Edward J. Burns of the U.S. Bishops' Office on Vocations asked if the Life Cycle Institute could assist the Committee on Vocations on a survey of men ordained to the priesthood in 2002. I met with Father Burns to design a questionnaire. In February Father Burns sent a short questionnaire to each diocese and religious community asking if one of its staff could list the names of the men ordained in 2002, and either complete a two-page questionnaire on each or ask the men themselves to do so.
After some days of phoning and reminding, Father Burns achieved 326 completions by the March 31 deadline (247 ordinands to the diocesan priesthood and 79 to the religious priesthood). A graduate student, Patrick Lynch, and I computerized the data under Father Burns's direction.
The questionnaire asked eighteen questions about the ordinand's age, background, education, work experience, activities, hobbies, recognitions, and experience with vocation efforts. We continued using the codes we constructed in 2000 and 2001, for the sake of continuity.
One question asked for "principal full-time work experience," and since many questionnaires listed more than one, we coded up to two per person. Similarly we coded up to two hobbies. Below is a summary of the questionnaires. All numbers are percentages unless noted.
TABLE 1: AGE
TABLE 2: RACE
|18||8||15||Hispanic or Latino|
|8||15||9||Asian or Pacific Islander|
|*||0||*||Native American/American Indian|
* Less than ½ percent.
Table 2 shows that 15 percent of the ordinands are Hispanics (Latinos), a figure higher than in recent years. For example, a 1984 nationwide survey of Catholic seminarians (Hemrick and Hoge, 1987) found that 7 percent were Hispanic. Still the figure is lower than the percent Hispanic in the total U.S. Catholic population today (estimated at 25 to 30 percent).
Table 2 also shows that 9 percent are Asian or Pacific Islanders, a figure higher than the percent in the total U.S. Catholic population (an estimated 2 to 3 percent; see Davidson, et al., 1997, p. 161). Also 4 percent are African-American, which is the same as the percentage African-American in the U.S. Catholic population (estimated at 3 to 4 percent; see Davidson, et al., p. 159).
TABLE 3: COUNTRY OF BIRTH
|1||0||1||Caribbean, Puerto Rico|
* Less than ½ percent.
TABLE 3A: AGE ENTERING U.S. IF BORN OUTSIDE
NOTE: A total of 59, 19, and 78 ordinands, respectively, were born outside of the U.S.
Table 3 tells us that only 68 percent of the ordinands were born in the U.S., and 32 percent were born outside. The 32 percent is the highest since this research began in 1998, when the figure was 24 percent. The two principal countries of birth are Vietnam and Mexico.
HIGHEST EDUCATION BEFORE ENTERING SEMINARY
|59||52||57||BA or BS|
|*||3||1||Working on advanced degree beyond BA, BS|
|18||25||20||MS, MSW, MDiv or other|
|*||1||1||Other professional degree|
* Less than ½ percent.
ANY CATHOLIC EDUCATION?
|62||58||61||Percent who attended Catholic elementary|
|52||50||52||Percent who attended Catholic high school|
|51||60||53||Percent who attended Catholic college|
The levels of Catholic schooling are much higher for the ordinands (Table 5) than is true of the total U.S. Catholic population. For example, in a 1993 nationwide Gallup survey, 54 percent of Catholics 54 or younger reported that they had attended Catholic elementary school and 26 percent said they had attended Catholic high school. The percent 35 to 54 years old who had attended Catholic college was only 10. (See D'Antonio, et al., 1996, p. 71.)
PRINCIPAL FULL-TIME WORK EXPERIENCE
|18||25||19||Educator, teacher, guidance|
|4||3||4||Skilled or unskilled labor|
|8||5||7||Sales, real estate|
|0||0||0||Church lay ministry|
|5||11||6||Banking, finance, accoutant|
|7||12||9||Engineer, computer programmer|
|9||2||7||Scientific assistant, technician|
|4||3||4||Nursing, paramedic, phys. therapist|
|1||3||2||Clerk, bank teller|
|1||3||1||Artist, musician, photographer|
|2||0||1||Legal assistant, paralegal|
|2||0||1||Reporter, editor, writer|
NOTE: Only 221 ordinands mentioned full-time work experiences. Some mentioned more than one, so we coded up to two experiences. The percentages shown are of the total work experiences reported (280 in all).
* Less than ½ percent.
|18||23||19||Individual sports (tennis, squash, bowling)|
|3||1||2||Mountain climbing, camping, orienteering|
NOTE: The questionnaire asked about "your hobbies or extra-curricular activities." A total of 287 ordinands mentioned hobbies. Some mentioned more than one, so we coded up to two hobbies. The percentages shown are of the total hobbies reported (541 in all).
EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES (REPORTED BY 8 PERSONS)
|29||100||38||Catholic organization; campus ministry|
|14||0||13||Leadership in organizations|
|29||0||25||Social welfare or educational service|
NOTE: Only 8 ordinands mentioned extracurricular activities. The percentages shown here are of these 8.
|13||16||15||National Honor Society|
|0||2||2||National Merit Scholar|
|72||75||74||Academic Honor Roll, Dean's list, Cum Laude, etc.|
NOTE: A total of 121 ordinands mentioned academic recognitions. The percentages shown are of these 121. The percentages of all ordinands (326) are 6, 1, 28 and 3 respectively.
STATE/NATIONAL AWARDS OR RECOGNITIONS
|13||6||8||National Honor Society|
|0||6||5||National Merit Scholar|
|0||28||23||Academic Honor Roll, Dean's list, Cum Laude, etc.|
|0||16||13||Included in Who's Who|
NOTE: A total of 40 ordinands mentioned state/national awards or recognitions. The percentages shown are of these 40. The percentages of all ordinands (326) are 1, 1, 3, 2, and 12, respectively.
ORGANIZED SPORTS TEAMS?
|57||49||55||Percent who played a sport in high school|
|27||17||25||Percent who played a sport in college|
MILITARY SERVICE IN THE UNITED STATES OR ANOTHER COUNTRY?
|13||0||10||Combination of Active, Reserve, or National Guard|
NOTE: A total of 39 ordinands mentioned military service. The percentages shown are of these 39.
VOCATION EFFORTS YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED
|ONE-ON-ONE PERSONAL CONTACT WITH:|
|2||1||2||Traveling Cup/Cross Program|
|17||6||15||Grade school or CCD programs|
|15||8||13||High school vocation programs|
|14||11||13||Right to Life|
|35||19||31||Knights of Columbus|
|8||3||7||St. Vincent de Paul Society|
|33||42||35||Come and See Weekends|
|18||3||14||Parish vocation programs|
NOTE: Percentages are based on all ordinands per group: 247, 79,
and 326, respectively.
DID SOMEONE INITIATE A CONVERSATION WITH YOU
ABOUT CONSIDERING A VOCATION?
|IF YES, WHO?|
NOTE: 115, 37, and 152 ordinands, respectively, responded "Yes" to a conversation.
ADVERTISING TECHNIQUES WHICH WERE INSTRUMENTAL FOR YOU
NOTE: A total of 96 ordinands mentioned advertising techniques. The percentages here are of these 96 persons. The percentages of all ordinands (326) are 7, 2, 5, 1, 7, and 8, respectively.
We found three changes in the ordinands since the research began in 1998. First, the average at ordination rose from 34.8 to 36.7 years. Second, the level of education prior to entering seminary rose. Whereas in 1998, 30 percent had less than a B.A. or B.S. degree, in the 2002 sample it was only 17 percent. Correspondingly, the percentage who had received a Masters Degree or professional degree beyond the B.A. rose from 13 to 27. This is a notable change in only four years. Third, the percentage born outside the U.S. rose from 24 to 32 percent. The two principal countries of birth today are Vietnam and Mexico, in agreement with past studies.
The 2002 questionnaire introduced a series of questions asking the ordinands about their own experiences with vocation programs. (See Tables 12, 13, and 14.) The vocation encouragement most often remembered was personal contact, especially by a priest, friend, or seminarian. Second most common were retreat programs. Most of the ordinands have a history of activity in parishes (see Table 12), and the form of activity was usually as altar servers, lectors, and Eucharistic ministers. Of various methods in use to encourage vocations, the most effective are ads and personal contacts (Table 14).
D'Antonio, William V., James D. Davidson, Dean R. Hoge, and Ruth A. Wallace. Laity American and Catholic (Kansas City: Sheed and Ward, 1996).
Davidson, James D., et al. The Search for Common Ground: What Unites and Divides Catholic Americans (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 1997).
Hemrick, Eugene F., and Dean R. Hoge. Seminary Life and Visions of the Priesthood: A National Survey of Seminarians (Washington, DC: National Catholic Educational Association, 1987).
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