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Ordination Class of 2002

 

Report on Survey of 2002 Priestly Ordinations
by Dean R. Hoge
Life Cycle Institute, Catholic University, May 8, 2002


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

Diocesan Religious All
25 8 21 Percent 25-29
27 21 26 Percent 30-34
23 30 25 Percent 35-39
18 23 19 Percent 40-49
5 15 7 Percent 50-59
2 4 3 Percent 60+




35.6 40.2 36.7 Mean Age

TABLE 2: RACE

Diocesan Religious All
63 64 64 European American
18 8 15 Hispanic or Latino
8 15 9 Asian or Pacific Islander
4 4 4 African-American
* 0 * Native American/American Indian
0 3 1 European
2 0 2 African
5 6 5 Other

* 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

Diocesan Religious All
67 72 68 USA
0 1 * Canada
1 1 1 Central America
3 1 3 Poland
* 3 1 Ireland
5 10 6 Vietnam
2 3 2 Philippines
8 1 7 Mexico
4 1 3 Colombia
1 0 1 Caribbean, Puerto Rico
0 1 * Chile
* 0 * Peru
9 5 8 Other countries

* Less than ½ percent.

TABLE 3A: AGE ENTERING U.S. IF BORN OUTSIDE

Diocesan Religious All
5 5 5 Percent 1-9
9 26 13 Percent 10-19
64 37 58 Percent 20-29
22 32 24 Percent 30+




23.9 25.0 24.1 Mean Age

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.

TABLE 4
HIGHEST EDUCATION BEFORE ENTERING SEMINARY

Diocesan Religious All
13 10 13 High school
5 3 4 Associate Degree
59 52 57 BA or BS
* 3 1 Working on advanced degree beyond BA, BS
18 25 20 MS, MSW, MDiv or other
1 3 2 Law degree
1 0 1 MD, DD
* 1 1 Other professional degree
3 4 3 PhD

* Less than ½ percent.

TABLE 5
ANY CATHOLIC EDUCATION?

Diocesan Religious All
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.)

TABLE 6
PRINCIPAL FULL-TIME WORK EXPERIENCE

Diocesan Religious All
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
10 6 9 Manager, supervisor
5 11 6 Banking, finance, accoutant
7 12 9 Engineer, computer programmer
4 3 4 Military
9 2 7 Scientific assistant, technician
4 3 4 Nursing, paramedic, phys. therapist
1 3 2 Clerk, bank teller
2 3 2 Attorney
0 2 * Govt. worker
1 3 1 Artist, musician, photographer
3 2 3 Counselor, psychologist
9 9 9 Social worker
2 0 1 Legal assistant, paralegal
1 0 1 Scientist
2 0 1 Reporter, editor, writer
* 0 * Volunteer
11 9 10 Other

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.

TABLE 7
HOBBIES

Diocesan Religious All
18 23 19 Individual sports (tennis, squash, bowling)
23 23 23 Reading
13 10 13 Team sports
8 14 10 Music
5 5 5 Musical instruments
3 1 2 Mountain climbing, camping, orienteering
6 4 6 Movies
3 1 3 Painting, drawing
2 3 3 Gardening
2 2 2 Photography
5 2 5 Traveling
1 0 1 Architecture
2 0 1 Visiting family
1 1 1 History
6 11 7 Others

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).

TABLE 8
EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES (REPORTED BY 8 PERSONS)

Diocesan Religious All
29 100 38 Catholic organization; campus ministry
14 0 13 Leadership in organizations
29 0 25 Social welfare or educational service
29 0 25 Other clubs

NOTE: Only 8 ordinands mentioned extracurricular activities. The percentages shown here are of these 8.

TABLE 9A
ACADEMIC RECOGNITIONS

Diocesan Religious All
13 16 15 National Honor Society
0 2 2 National Merit Scholar
72 75 74 Academic Honor Roll, Dean's list, Cum Laude, etc.
16 7 9 Other

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.

TABLE 9B
STATE/NATIONAL AWARDS OR RECOGNITIONS

Diocesan Religious All
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
88 44 53 Other

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.

TABLE 10
ORGANIZED SPORTS TEAMS?

Diocesan Religious All
57 49 55 Percent who played a sport in high school
27 17 25 Percent who played a sport in college

TABLE 11
MILITARY SERVICE IN THE UNITED STATES OR ANOTHER COUNTRY?

Diocesan Religious All
33 89 46 Active
17 0 13 Reserve
3 11 5 National Guard
13 0 10 Combination of Active, Reserve, or National Guard
33 0 26 Other service

NOTE: A total of 39 ordinands mentioned military service. The percentages shown are of these 39.

TABLE 12
VOCATION EFFORTS YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED

Diocesan Religious All
ONE-ON-ONE PERSONAL CONTACT WITH:


89 87 89 Priest
24 11 21 Youth Minister
30 19 28 Teacher
7 5 7 Military Chaplain
27 38 29 Religious Brother
53 34 48 Friend
46 25 41 Seminarian
27 19 25 Family member
33 28 32 Religious Sister
35 18 31 Parishioner
20 4 16 Deacon




VOCATION PROGRAMS:


2 1 2 Traveling Cup/Cross Program
4 1 3 Operation Andrew
17 6 15 Grade school or CCD programs
15 8 13 High school vocation programs
22 23 22 Other




PARISH PROGRAMS:


56 37 51 Eucharistic minister
62 46 58 Lector
7 5 6 Men's Club
2 4 3 Eagle Scouts
14 11 13 Right to Life
30 22 28 Youth minister
18 11 17 Parish council
11 18 13 Boy Scouts
9 3 7 Rosary Society
23 22 23 Devotions
55 57 55 Altar Server
35 19 31 Knights of Columbus
11 6 10 Serra Club
8 3 7 St. Vincent de Paul Society
19 27 21 Other




OTHER PROGRAMS:


64 58 62 Retreats
32 33 32 Volunteer programs
33 42 35 Come and See Weekends
24 14 22 Study groups
18 3 14 Parish vocation programs

NOTE: Percentages are based on all ordinands per group: 247, 79,

and 326, respectively.

TABLE 13
DID SOMEONE INITIATE A CONVERSATION WITH YOU
ABOUT CONSIDERING A VOCATION?

Diocesan Religious All
49 48 49 Yes




IF YES, WHO?


71 54 67 Priest, pastor
3 5 3 Seminarian, student
3 0 2 Parishioner
7 3 6 Vocation director
2 3 2 Teacher
7 14 9 Friend, peer
4 11 6 Immediate family
1 3 1 Extended family
3 8 4 Other

NOTE: 115, 37, and 152 ordinands, respectively, responded "Yes" to a conversation.

TABLE 14
ADVERTISING TECHNIQUES WHICH WERE INSTRUMENTAL FOR YOU

Diocesan Religious All
31 21 24 Ads
4 6 5 Billboards
12 19 17 Posters
8 1 3 Websites
19 26 24 Personal contact
27 27 27 Other

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).


References

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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