Skip to comments.New study on priests ordained in 2004 reflects ‘richness of Church’
Posted on 08/10/2004 6:09:11 AM PDT by NYer
WASHINGTON DC, USA, Aug. 09, 2004 (CNA) - As a kid, Timothy Pfander probably never thought of becoming a priest. He grew up without a formal religion, and became a Lutheran in his adult years, before converting to Catholicism. This year, he was ordained for the Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama.
Patrick Forsythe was over 60 years old when he was ordained for the same diocese this year. After 40 years in medicine, when most doctors start dreaming of retirement, he studied for the priesthood.
Fr. Pfander and Fr. Forsythe are only two of a number of priests, whose faith journeys and vocation stories are becoming more common in todays U.S.Church.
Thats what a new report, issued by sociologist Dean R. Hoge of the Catholic University of America Life Cycle Institute, suggests. According to the Report on Survey of 2004 Priestly Ordinations, men ordained to the priesthood today are older, more educated and come from more varied cultural, religious and professional backgrounds than in years past.
These men reflect the richness of the Church in our country, said Bishop Blase Cupich, interim chair of the U.S. bishops Committee on Vocations. They are faithful, dedicated and committed men.
The report, based on 336 respondents from 126 dioceses and 32 religious orders, shows three significant trends among new priests since Hoge began his research in 1998.
Since 1998, the average age at ordination rose from 34.8 to 37. While the mean age for the ordinands is increasing (three percent were over 60), 49 percent were under 35, and 22 percent were under 30.
The level of education, prior to entering seminary, rose as well. In 1998, 30 percent had less than a bachelors degree; in 2004, that number was only 22 percent. The percentage of men who had a graduate degree before entering seminary rose from 13 to 28 percent.
In addition, the percentage of foreign-born men entering the priesthood in the U.S. rose from 24 to 31 percent most of these are from Vietnam, Mexico, the Philippines and Poland.
Hoge noted that 12 percent of this years class was Hispanic, and increase from 1984, when another study found that seven percent were Hispanic. However, Hoge underlined, the figure is still lower than the percentage of Hispanics in the current U.S. Catholic population, estimated at 25 to 30 percent.
On the other hand, the 12 percent of new priests who are Asian or Pacific Islanders is higher than the estimated two to three percent of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. Catholic population.
The report also reveals that these new priests come from a variety of professional backgrounds. Twenty percent were educators; nine percent were in engineering and computer programming, and seven percent were in church ministry. Another seven percent were in the military, and four percent were in law or law enforcement. Still others were legislative assistants or trade union leaders and social activists.
Some priests grew up in other churches and converted to Catholicism as adults. Others belonged to a religious order before studying for the priesthood.
In addition, the majority of seminarians were involved in parish ministries primarily as altar servers, lectors, and eucharistic ministers before entering seminary.
Largest number of priests in decades
The largest numbers of ordinations in 2004 were in the archdioceses of Chicago and Newark, which each ordained 14 men. The Archdiocese of New York ordained 13.
Some smaller dioceses marked a significant increase in the number of ordinations. The Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania, ordained five men, ranging in age from 29 to 54. The Diocese of Columbus, Ohio, ordained six, the largest group in 20 years. The Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, ordained seven, its largest number in 10 years.
Then they gave lighthearted explanations for how being in the fraternity prepared them for their lives as priests. They're all three very comfortable participating in the Theology on Tap program, where priests go to bars frequented by young people and talk about the Catholic faith. One of the priests said that having seen what goes on in a fraternity he had the advantage of never being shocked in the confessional.
On a more serious note, the priests had one other similarity - all had been brought to answer their calling at the urging of the Blessed Mother.
There are many on this board who would like to shut down these particular ministries.
Not a good idea, it would appear.
I have heard wonderful things about this program. Fr. Francis Mary (Life on the Rock), had several TOT members on his program. What a great concept!
I think there are a lot of folks who have a problem with the Theology of Tap program, but I honestly can't see why. If the kids are hanging out in bars, then bring the Faith to the bars. At least, that's how I see it.
I don't know who wants to 'shut down' these particular 'callings' (I'm not going to call them ministries since I think the word is overused - today anything you do in a parish is dubbed a 'ministry') but it might point to severely curtailing or even eliminating women, no?
Good news. Thanks for the ping :-)
I agree with you. If they don't come to God, bring God to them. From what I've read about this program, most of the people running it and going out into the world are faithful Catholics.
Not a good idea, it would appear.
Why not just restore the use of acolytes and lectors as mandated by Paul VI? Then there would be even more seminarians, by your theory, since "In accordance with the ancient tradition of the Church, institution to the ministries of reader and acolyte is reserved to men" (Paul VI, Ministeria quaedam 7).
100. In the absence of an instituted acolyte, lay ministers may be deputed to serve at the altar and assist the priest and the deacon; they may carry the cross, the candles, the thurible, the bread, the wine, and the water, and they may also be deputed to distribute Holy Communion as extraordinary ministers.
101. In the absence of an instituted lector, other laypersons may be commissioned to proclaim the readings from Sacred Scripture. They should be truly suited to perform this function and should receive careful preparation, so that the faithful by listening to the readings from the sacred texts may develop in their hearts a warm and living love for Sacred Scripture. (GIRM)
Why not support what Paul VI said was "the ancient tradition of the Church"?
I run the lector program in our parish, and I'd get shot at dawn for even suggesting such a thing.
I can understand that doing all the readings would be tiring for many priests, but there are days, especially at daily Mass, when I find the lector really distracting. I've heard there are parishes where the lectors meet, practice, and critique themselves, but our parish isn't one of them - I think anybody who knows the alphabet can get up there and start reading.
I agree with you. Bad readers can be very distracting, as are those who don't practice and don't know the reading.
Our Daily Mass readers are special cases, since we don't have a lot to choose from. Some of them take their roles very seriously, others don't.
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