March 11March 11 Editorial: Survey reminds us of importance of encouraging, praying for vocations (May 19, 2023)

May 19, 2023


Survey reminds us of importance of encouraging, praying for vocations

While most students are eagerly preparing for the summer as the 2022-23 school year ends in the coming days, others are readying for their next chapter in life.

High school seniors are readying themselves for college, vocational school, service in the military or taking on a full-time job. College students—if they’re not continuing their education in hopes of earning an advanced degree—are also preparing to begin their respective careers. We pray the Spirit guides them as they look to leave their mark in today’s world.

It is also a time when many dioceses across the U.S. and around the world are looking forward to the priestly ordination of seminarians. In the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, transitional deacons José Neri and Jack Wright will be ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Charles C. Thompson at 10 a.m. on June 3 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. The public is invited to attend.

Both Deacons Neri and Wright were formed for the priesthood at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad. An article about Deacon Neri is included in this week’s issue of The Criterion. Deacon Wright’s vocation story will be published in The Criterion’s May 26 issue.

As you read about our future priests, you will learn what led to their vocations, how they spent time in prayer discerning where they felt the Spirit was leading them, and how they answered God’s call. Both men’s testimony offers a beautiful witness of faith, and we pray their ministry in the Church in central and southern Indiana bears much fruit.

At this time each year, the Center for Applied Research (CARA) at Georgetown University releases its annual “Survey or Ordinands to the Priesthood,” a report made directly to the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The report offers a useful snapshot of the lives of the soon-to-be ordained priests. The online survey, which CARA has overseen since 2006, was completed by 334 of the 458 total ordinands from both dioceses and religious orders who were invited to participate.

Jesuit Father Thomas Gaunt, CARA’s executive director, told OSV News the age of men set to be ordained this year has “started to level out,” with “more consistently younger men entering seminary and beginning their theological studies in their early 20s—basically after having finished college—and then being ordained four to five years or so later.”

Some of the other highlights of the survey included:

  • Overall, this year’s ordinands are on average 33 years old, with ordinands from religious institutes generally four years older than their diocesan counterparts.
  • The data showed a “steady increase in Hispanic ordinands year over year,” Father Gaunt noted, with 16% of the 2023 class identifying as Hispanic/Latino—a trendline set to rise to about 20% by 2028.
  • White ordinands accounted for 64% of the 2023 class, with 10% Asian and Pacific Islander, 6% Black or African and 3% representing other ethnic backgrounds.
  • A significant number of the 2023 ordinands (25%) were born abroad. After the U.S., the most common countries of birth were Mexico (5%), Vietnam (3%), Nigeria (3%) and Colombia (2%).
  • Regular eucharistic adoration figured heavily in the pre-seminary prayer practices of the class of 2023, cited by 73% of the survey participants. Following adoration was the rosary (66%), prayer group or Bible study (45%), high school retreats (37%) and lectio divina (35%).
  • Survey respondents listed among their pre-seminary activities parish youth groups (52%), Catholic campus ministry (27%), Boy Scouts (25%), parish young adult groups (23%) and the Knights of Columbus (23%).
  • A majority of the 2023 ordinands, 72%, had been altar servers, 51% had been lectors, 40% extraordinary ministers of holy Communion and 33% catechists.
  • Most (63%) cited parish priests as those who most encouraged their vocation, followed by parishioners (44%), friends (40%), mothers (37%) and fathers (29%).

As we reflect on that final statistic, it’s worth asking: Are you among those who encourage others to consider a vocation?

Hearing and answering God’s call in today’s chaotic world is no easy task.

Let’s make time each day to pray for more vocations and continue to plant seeds. And please Lord, may those petitions continue to bear fruit.

—Mike Krokos

Local site Links: