The number of men to be ordained to the priesthood in the U.S. Catholic Church in 2015 has increased 25 percent from last year, according to a newly released survey.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) reported Tuesday that 595 men will be ordained in 2015, a 24.7 percent increase from the 477 ordained in 2014. In 2013, 497 men were ordained to the priesthood.
A survey of data regarding the class of 2015 ordinands to the priesthood was prepared by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).
The data indicate that, on average, members of the class of 2015 first considered a vocation to the priesthood at age 17. In addition, 71 percent of class members said they were urged to pursue the priesthood by a parish priest, 46 percent by friends, 45 percent by members of their parish, and 40 percent by their mothers.
Other major findings of the survey include: 1) average age for the 2015 class is 34 years old; 2) 69 percent of the 2015 class report their race as white/European American, 10 percent report to be of Asian or Pacific Island background, and 14 percent give their race as Hispanic/Latino.
In addition, 25 percent of ordinands for 2015 were born outside of the United States, primarily Colombia, Mexico, the Philippines, Nigeria, Poland, and Vietnam, the survey indicates.
Regarding education background, the survey found that 60 percent of this year’s class to be ordained completed college prior to entering the seminary, and 15 percent entered with a graduate degree.
Slightly more than half (51 percent) of 2015 ordinands participating in the survey attended a Catholic elementary school—a percentage higher than all Catholic adults in the United States.
“It is encouraging to see the slight increase in the number of ordinations this year in the United States,” Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, chair of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, said. “When asked about the positive influences they encountered while discerning the call, those to be ordained responded that the support from their family, parish priest, and Catholic schools ranked very high.”