The number of men expected to be ordained to the priesthood in the United States has increased by almost 25 per cent in a single year.
According to data released by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 595 men are expected to be ordained to the priesthood in 2015, an increase of 24.7 per cent compared with last year’s figure of 477.
The number of men ordained to the priesthood in the US fell steadily from 994 in 1965, to 771 in 1975, 533 in 1985, 511 in 1995, and 454 in 2005, according to the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).
The survey also reported that the average age of those graduating in 2015 was 34 and that a quarter of them were born outside the United States, with the greatest numbers coming from Nigeria, Poland, Vietnam, Colombia, Mexico and the Philippines.
Most ordinands are cradle Catholics, although seven per cent became Catholic later in life. Eighty-four per cent said that both of their parents were Catholic and 37 per cent were related to someone who is a priest or a religious.
About 70 per cent said that they prayed the Rosary and participated in Eucharistic adoration before entering the seminary. Almost half said they were discouraged at some point from joining the priesthood.