The November issue of "The Priest" magazine lists this year's results of a survey of newly ordained in the United States. This survey, commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is conducted by CARA (The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate). Of the 548 men ordained as priests this year in the U.S., 440 responded. Here are some interesting findings:
* The average age of those ordained in 2016 is 35 (it was 27 in my time)
* 82% list both parents as being Catholic
* 92% have been Catholic since birth
* 59% completed college before seminary
* 41% attended a Catholic college (compared to just 7% of all U.S. Catholic adults)
* 70% indicated that they were altar servers
* 51% said that they were discouraged from entering the priesthood by family or friends
* 73% said that they participated in regular Eucharistic adoration and prayed the rosary daily.
What does this tell us about this year's group of priests?
They are older, more mature, well educated, and strongly influenced in their Faith by the practice of their Faith, by family and the institutions that guided their growth ... this despite the discouraging words of some. They are men of prayer and devotion. Altar servering is a great entrance into the ministry of service at the Altar. They enter into a ministry and respond to their vocational call at a time of challege, both in the Church and in society ... but they come well prepared to be servant leaders.
In our own diocese this year, Bishop Malesic ordained Father Ryan Ravis, a fine young man who is enjoying his introduction to priestly ministry. Pray for him and for the 547 other men ordained in the U.S. in 2016, and pray for all of your priests whose ministry spans many years. May they have "many fruitful years".