Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

The class of 2011

April 27th, 2011, Promulgated by Mike

The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) has released the results of its annual survey of candidates for ordination to the priesthood.  The Class of 2011 includes 480 members, 329 (69%) of whom participated in the survey. Of those 329, 275 are scheduled for ordination as priests for 128 different dioceses and archdioceses, with the remaining 54 anticipating ordination as members of religious orders.

Some of CARA’s findings include …

  • The average age of ordinands for the Class of 2011 is 34. The median age (midpoint of the distribution) is 31.
  • 8% are converts.
  • 82% report that both of their parents are Catholic.
  • 34% have a relative who is a priest or a religious.
  • 53% come from families of four or more children.
  • 47% attended a Catholic elementary school, 39% attended a Catholic high school and 39% attended a Catholic college.
  • 70% reported praying the Rosary regularly and 65% reported regular participation in Eucharistic adoration.

The same two figures that caught my attention last year continue to seem noteworthy:  About half of the potential ordinands come from large families and about half of them attended Catholic elementary schools.  As I wrote then,

Large Catholic families and Catholic schools continue to be seedbeds of vocations (see here and here for similar results from another survey). It’s too bad we don’t have very many of either in DOR.

Also of interest is the fact that 12% of the diocesan ordinands report that they had lived in the diocese or eparchy for which they will be ordained less than a year before they entered the seminary.  Last year this number was 10%, while in 2009 it was 17% and in 2008 it was 16%.  CARA does not speculate as to the reasons for this phenomena or its apparent decline the last two years. It is, however, an open secret that many orthodox men who were raised in a “progressive” diocese like DOR and who have felt a call to the priesthood, have found it necessary to seek ordination elsewhere (see here).  In other words, DOR’s “priest shortage” is, in part, a self-inflicted wound.

Full CARA report here.

Tags: ,


11 Responses to “The class of 2011”

  1. A Catholic says:

    It is interesting how many of these vocations come from large families. There might exist more large Catholic families in the Rochester diocese (and thus more potential priestly vocations) if the Catholic teaching on artificial birth control was explained more often from the pulpit. The policy in the DOR seems to have been: most Catholics don’t accept this teaching so we’ll just ignore it or advise that it isn’t important or that the teaching is incorrect. The result after 30 to 40 years: small families, less vocations, and less Catholic school students.

  2. Scott W. says:

    How do you know there arent a lot of large Catholic families in rochester compared to everywhere else??? We are all so quick to jump on the DOR as the center of all the probelms— BUT- perhaps having more children is not attractive b/c it costs more, there arent as many traditional farming families, there arent a lot of traditional families etc etc. It likely has nothing to do with the DOR.

    He didn’t say compared to everywhere else. He also didn’t imply that the DOR is unique in this problem. Contraceptive demogragphic-suicide is a widespread problem and I think Mike would agree if anyone would bother to ask him instead of coming in swinging a battle-axe. BUT, as always, the proof is in the pudding: there ARE places that are showing great vocation numbers. Let’s look at those diocese and see what they are doing as compared to the DOR. Fair warning: it’s a hard teaching.

    Reading all these posts where everyone blames Matthew Clark, and the DOR for every problem in the Unversal Catholic church proves that Cleansing fire is a just a group of angry, disgruntled people who just come to this site to blow steam instead of have meaningful discussion and well thought out opinions. No wonder the church moved on from the “old days”

    If you have facts to counter the number of statistics given, then let’s have your “well thought out opinions”. And no, we are not blaming the DOR and the bishop for every problem in the Universal Church. We are rather blaming it on a bad ideology that the leadership the DOR happens to subscribe to and the results are inescapable: the DOR isn’t just an average diocese that just happens to be going through a vocational dry spell; it’s bottom of the barrel. Again, looking at diocese showing strong vocations it’s plain to see that the DOR administrative makes for a useful negative compass: whichever way it points, go the opposite direction.

  3. Sassy says:

    Anon 207251,

    In defense of Scott W., DOR does seem to have an unbalanced share of dissenting priests (I’m thinking about how many DOR priests financially supported a notoriously pro-gay marriage organization in the area). Orthodoxy and vocations go hand-in-hand…and it starts with the bishop.

  4. annonymouse says:

    It should be said that I have NEVER heard the Church’s position on artificial birth control explained or even mentioned from a DoR pulpit or anyplace else in Church. I can’t recall the last time I even heard the Church’s teachings on abortion brought up from the pulpit. I wonder if the more conservative priests and deacons are forbidden from broaching these “sensitive” topics (if in fact there are any conservative priests and deacons left). We don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, after all.

    And I suspect that the reason many priestly vocations are from large families has nothing to do with the fact that they’re large families and is entirely a result of their striving to be faith-filled and holy families, adhering to all Holy Mother Church teaches us. Orthodoxy breeds vocations, can we not agree on that?

  5. A Catholic says:

    Anon. 207251- Perhaps you aren’t aware that the Rochester diocese is 2nd to last of all the dioceses in the United States in percentage of priestly vocations. That’s out of over 200+ dioceses. Something like that doesn’t just happen. Brushing things under the rug doesn’t solve any problems. Cleansing Fire is bringing about much needed discussion of these issues.

  6. Mike says:


    No one I know of is blaming Bishop Clark “for every problem in the Universal Catholic church,” but there are those, myself included, who hold him responsible for many of the major problems in DOR. He has, after all, been in charge around here for the past 31+ years. If he is not responsible for major policy decisions and the overall direction of the diocese, then who is?

    And so I will plead guilty to being among those “angry, disgruntled people” you mention, as long as two points are clear. First, my anger is over the mess Bishop Clark has made of this diocese in what has been an obvious effort to promote his own version of “progressive” Catholicism, replete with major elements of the radical feminist and homosexualist agendas, all of which flies in the face of the fullness of the Faith as taught by the Church for the last 2000 years. Second, “disgruntled” carries its true dictionary sense (“unhappy, dissatisfied, frustrated“) with no connotation of having lied or stretched the truth on account of that unhappiness, dissatisfaction and/or frustration.

    Finally, others have already partially addressed your comment regarding large Catholic families. I would add that dioceses – and bishops – who truly value them would design their Catholic school tuition policies in such a way so as to at least not discourage them. Just the opposite has been the case in DOR.

  7. Mary says:

    I find this information so encouraging to young families. It shows the powerful effect Eucharistic adoration and the Rosary can have on children and young men. It would be a great blessing to have a son grow up to be a priest or a child to be called to the religious life. What I took from this study was how important families are in supporting vocations. no matter your take on our diocese, it shows how we as families and lay people can support families and nurture future vocations.

    Speaking of children, my little 3 year old priest-wanna-be is getting into mischief. Off to nurture!

  8. Raymond Rice says:

    Many people today have small families and do not encourage vocations to the religious life because they want grandchildren from the couple of kids they have. This, plus a bishop who has a mediocre vocation program in his diocese, contributes to the problem.

    PS When was the last time you heard a priest give a sermon on the joys of the priesthood??

  9. Mike says:

    Raymond Rice asked,

    When was the last time you heard a priest give a sermon on the joys of the priesthood?

    November 2, 2010 – but I must admit that was the first time in a very long time.

  10. annon. says:

    AH. Would this have been at STA? You can’t too much of that.

  11. Mike says:


    It was less than two weeks before STA’s “Closing Mass“.

Leave a Reply

Log in | Register

You must be logged in to post a comment.

-Return to main page-