Results of a survey released April 30 show that the average age of the 475 priests expected to be ordained in the United States this year is 35 and one-third of this year's new priests were born in another country, primarily Vietnam, Mexico, Poland or the Philippines.
The national study of the ordination class of 2007 also shows that the men are well educated. More than six in 10 completed college before entering the seminary and some have advanced degrees in law, medicine and education.
The annual survey of new priests was initially developed in 1998 by the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Vocations and Priestly Formation. Last year, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University began conducting it for the U.S. bishops.
For this year's analysis, CARA researchers contacted the 475 ordinands by e-mail, telephone and fax. A total of 282 ordinands responded, or roughly 60 percent. The group includes 221 who will be ordained for dioceses and 60 for religious orders. One respondent did not specify.
Respondents represent 98 archdioceses, dioceses and eparchies and 33 religious orders.
Seven in 10 respondents reported their primary race or ethnicity as Caucasian, European American or white. Eleven percent are Asian/Pacific Islander; 11 percent are Hispanic/Latino; and 5 percent are African-American.
According to the survey report, nearly all of the new priests have been Catholic since birth; 6 percent joined the Catholic Church from mainline and evangelical Protestant traditions and one converted from Buddhism.
Half of the ordinands attended Catholic elementary school, as have almost half of all U.S. Catholics, the report said. They attended Catholic high school and college in larger numbers than the overall U.S. adult Catholic population.
About two-thirds of the ordinands had full-time work experience, primarily in education, before entering the seminary. Almost one in 10 of them served in the U.S. Armed Forces and some have been directly impacted by the U.S.-led Iraq War.