New Statistics on Vocations Reveals before Seminary Most were Encouraged, Often Prayed the Rosary and Participated in Eucharistic Adoration - USCCB

Annual Study on Ordination Class Released as Church Prepares for World Day of Prayer for Vocations

April 25, 2023

USCCB - WASHINGTON - On April 30, the Catholic Church will mark the 60th annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Celebrated on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, the World Day of Prayer for Vocations is often referred to as “Good Shepherd Sunday” in reference to the Gospel reading that teaches that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep.

Bishop Earl A. Boyea of Lansing, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV) stated, “Surveys of recently professed men and women religious and men ordained to the priesthood show that families and encouragement from the parish priests alongside Catholic schools provide optimal environments for a vocational call to grow. 
(Video Below from Diocese of Bismark on Vocations to the Priesthood)
On this day, let us thank God for continuing to call men and women to serve him and his Church as priests, religious, and consecrated persons. We pray that all families, teachers, and priests will continue their essential work of instilling the faith and love of Jesus in our children.”
In conjunction with the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the CCLV committee released the Ordination Class of 2023 Study conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University. Out of the 458 men scheduled to be ordained this year, 334 completed the survey for an overall response rate of 73%. These ordinands represent 116 U.S. dioceses and eparchies and 24 distinct religious institutes.

A few of the major findings of the report are:Most of the ordinands received formation at a seminary in the South and the Midwest (31% for both) followed by the Northeast (17%), West (13%), and abroad (7%).
Responding ordinands indicate they first considered priesthood during elementary school (32%), followed by high school (26%). Religious ordinands are more likely than diocesan ordinands to first consider a vocation in college (23%) and graduate school (20%).
Hispanics/Latinos constituted 16% of the responding ordinands. Between 2006 and 2023, the share of Hispanics/Latinos averaged 15% and ranged between 11% and 22%.
Ordinands who attended Catholic elementary school constituted 43% of all respondents, and 34% attended a Catholic high school.
Most respondents (93%) were baptized Catholic as an infant and raised primarily by their biological parents (96%) and a married couple living together (92%).
Over half of respondents (63%) cited their parish priest as an encouraging influence on their vocation.
Key Findings on Prayer and Church Activities!
Seven in ten responding ordinands participated in Eucharistic adoration (74%) on a regular basis before entering the seminary, a similar proportion (72%) prayed the rosary
Half attended prayer group/Bible study (46%). Two in five participated in high school retreats (41%) or prayed Lectio Divina (38%). Three in ten participated in college retreats (32%). 
• In regard to participation in various activities before entering the seminary, half of all responding ordinands (50%) participated in a parish youth group. Three in ten participated in Catholic campus ministry/Newman Center (28%) or in Boy Scouts (25%). 
• In regard to participation in parish ministries, seven in ten responding ordinands (74%) served as altar servers before entering the seminary. Half (51%) served as lectors. Two in five served as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion (37%) or as catechists (37%). Three in ten served as in campus ministry/youth ministry (33%) or as a Confirmation sponsors/godfathers (27%). A quarter served as a cantor or in music ministry (26%).
 • Nine in ten responding ordinands (90%) report being encouraged to consider the priesthood by someone in their life (most frequently, the parish priest, a friend, or another parishioner). 
 • In regard to participation in vocation programs before entering the seminary, half of responding ordinands (49%) report participating in a “Come and See” weekend at the seminary or the religious institute/society. During their seminary years, nine in ten ordinands (83%) reported that a Pastoral Year internship contributed at least “somewhat” to their vocation

The full CARA report and profiles of the Ordination Class of 2023 can be accessed here:
Sources: USCCB and CARA