More Than 450 Men Will Become Priests in United States This Year. What Are They Like?

Who are the men who become priests? What is their background?

The answers to these and many other questions about the 458 men about to enter the Priesthood in this country are contained in a recent survey from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Among those scheduled to be ordained:

  • Most are lifelong Catholics, but some are converts -- former Buddhists, Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, and others.
  • A good number worked full-time before entering the seminary – mostly in business, education, sales, and food service – but a handful will bring to the pulpit their experience as police officers, lawyers, journalists, construction workers, and farmers.
  • Some entered the seminary right after high school, but a healthy number first earned college degrees, mostly in philosophy, liberal arts, or business, but also in engineering, medicine, fine arts, computer science, and law.
  • Most were about 16 when they first considered a vocation, but for some, that thought did not come until they were much older – including some who didn’t think about being a priest until they were in their 40s and 50s.
  • Most have parents who are Catholic, but for 13 percent of those about to be ordained, that’s not the case.
  • As for Catholic education, 43 percent attended Catholic elementary school, 34 percent attended Catholic high school, and 35 percent attended a Catholic college.

“I think the moral of this story is that anyone – regardless of their background, or education, or age, or position in life – can consider a vocation to the Priesthood,” said Father Mark Searles, Director of Vocations. “You never know when the Lord may be calling. You just need to be open to listening.”

Anyone who wants more information about becoming a priest should visit the diocesan Vocations page at To look at the full report on the survey of those about to be ordained, click here.


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