The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University recently released findings from their survey of seminarians scheduled for ordination in 2024.

The comprehensive study, conducted in partnership with the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, aims to provide insights into the backgrounds and experiences of future priests in the US.

Key findings reveal that a majority of the respondents (89%) were encouraged to consider the priesthood by someone in their life, with discouragement also notable at 45%, primarily from friends and family.

Additionally, 74% of ordinands reported that their pastoral year internship significantly influenced their vocational decision. Media also played a role in vocational discernment, with 41% viewing the influential video “Fishers of Men” released by the USCCB.

The survey also highlights the diverse backgrounds of the ordinands, with 23% being foreign-born, originating from countries like Mexico, Vietnam, Colombia, and the Philippines.

Educationally, 60% have completed higher education degrees in fields such as business, liberal arts, philosophy, and engineering.

Furthermore, prior full-time work experience was reported by 70% of ordinands, and religious practices such as Eucharistic Adoration and Rosary prayer were also prevalent among respondents.

There was also a notable trend in the reduction of educational debt from the time they entered the seminary to their ordination. Ordinands in religious institutes experienced an average debt decrease of 72%. In contrast, diocesan ordinands saw a smaller reduction, with an average decrease of 11%.

The reduction in debt for many ordinands shows the efforts within seminaries and religious communities to address financial barriers that might deter men from pursuing a vocation in the priesthood.

Editorial credit: Yandry_kw /
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