Editorial | Ingredients for a vocation to the priesthood

Lisa Johnston | lisajohnston@archstl.org
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Eight of every 10 men in the 2017 class of ordinations to the priesthood were encouraged by about four people, including parish priests, friends or other parishioners. According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate's (CARA) annual survey, the ordinands also were, on average, 16 years old when they first considered a vocation to the priesthood, and religious ordinands reported they knew the members of their religious institute an average of six years before entering.

This spring, 590 men are to be ordained priests in the U.S., up slightly up from 548 in 2016 and down slightly from 595 in 2015. Four men were ordained priests of the Archdiocese of St. Louis on May 27 (See Living Our Faith).

The average age for the Class of 2017 is 34. Seven in 10 ordinands are Caucasian and three in four were born in the United States. On average, respondents born in another country have lived in the United States for 12 years. Most ordinands have been Catholic since infancy, and 80 percent report that both of their parents are Catholic and more than a third have a relative who is a priest or a religious. Four in five indicate they were altar servers and about half report service as a lector. They attended Catholic grade schools at a rate 11 percent higher than the national average, 19 percent higher at Catholic high schools and 30 percent higher at Catholic colleges.

Unfortunately, about half indicated that they were discouraged from considering the priesthood by at least one individual, most commonly a friend, classmate or family member other than parents.

It's our responsibility to nurture vocations, which are God's calling to us in this life and after, and that "society should permit each of its members to fulfill his vocation" (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1907), because true formation is encourages "each person's ability to respond to his vocation and hence to God's call" (CCC 2461).

Jesus' example inspires us to be zealous about the works of God, even when it is difficult or counter-cultural. We must support the vocation call, wherever it may lead our brethren. 

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