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

From U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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. 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.


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