2018 Ordinations to the Priesthood

New Priests Come From All Walks of Life

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio will ordain five men to the priesthood for the Diocese of Brooklyn at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, Prospect Heights, on Saturday, June 30 at 11 a.m.

The average age of the ordinands is 34 years. Two were born in Queens to immigrant parents, one set from the Dominican Republic and the other from Ecuador. The other men were born in Vietnam, Haiti and Germany.

Their stories are as diverse as their backgrounds. One is a cancer survivor, who only felt truly healed after entering the seminary. Another holds master’s degrees in computer science and business administration. Two come from agricultural families. One speaks four languages.

They count among their saintly role models St. Pope John Paul II, St. Paul, Padre Pio, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare.

Their interests include traveling and pilgrimages, reading, music, dancing and sports, especially baseball and basketball.

All of their stories are contained within this special pullout section, along with their First Masses. After reading about them here, make an effort to get to know them in person.

This stained-glass window from the main chapel of the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston shows the celebration of Mass.
(Photo: Marie Elena Giossi)

The Diocese of Brooklyn’s five ordinands are among 430 potential ordinands for the Class of 2018, according to a report released by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The report is based on a study conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

Fewer Ordinands Nationwide

The findings reveal that this year’s ordination class is 27 percent smaller than a year earlier, when 590 men joined the priesthood. In 2016, 548 men were ordained and in 2015, the total was 595.

Approximately 78 percent of potential ordinands reported to CARA. That includes 252 for the diocesan priesthood and 78 for religious priesthood. Four did not report whether they belong to a religious institute or a diocese.

In all, these ordinands represent 99 dioceses and eparchies and 41 distinct religious congregations.

The greatest numbers of men scheduled for ordination to diocesan priesthood were reported by the Diocese of Wichita, Kan., (10 ordinands) and the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J. (nine ordinands), followed by the Diocese of Little Rock, Ark., the Archdiocese of Chicago, Ill., and the Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, based in Houston, Texas, with eight ordinands each.

Among the survey’s major findings:

  • On average, this year’s ordinands lived in the diocese or eparchy for which they will be ordained for 17 years before entering seminary.
  • The average age at the time of ordination among all responding ordinands is 35 years old. The youngest will be 25 at ordination and the oldest will be 70.
  • The majority is Caucasian (seven in 10) and was born in the U.S. (three in four). One in four is foreign-born. By comparison, since 1999, on average each year, 30 percent of responding ordinands were foreign-born.
  • The four most common countries of birth among foreign-born ordinands are Mexico, Vietnam, the Philippines and Colombia. On average, respondents born in another country have lived in the United States for 12 years.

Educational Backgrounds

  • Between 39 and 47 percent of responding ordinands attended Catholic school for at least part of their schooling. Half (51 percent) participated in a religious education program in their parish for seven years, on average.
  • About one in 20 ordinands say they were home schooled. Of these, they report nine years of home schooling, on average.
  • Nearly half (45 percent) report that they completed a college or university undergraduate degree before entering the seminary. Among them, the most common fields of study were the social sciences, theology or philosophy, business or liberal arts.
  • One-half of responding ordinands entered their seminary program at the pre-theology level. Nearly a quarter carried educational debt, which averaged $27,241 at the time they entered the seminary. The total amount of educational debt varied from $2,000 to $75,000. On average, those who had educational debt were not delayed entrance by that debt.

Vocational Discernment

  • Almost all were baptized Catholic as an infant (90 percent). Among those who became Catholic later in life, the majority previously belonged to a Protestant faith tradition. Their average age of conversion was 26, and varied from five to 56 years old.
  • Four in five ordinands report that both of their parents were Catholic when they were children. One in three has or had a relative who is a priest or religious.
  • Nearly nine in 10 said they were encouraged to consider the priesthood by someone in their life (most frequently, the parish priest, friend, or another parishioner). On average, they reported that four individuals have encouraged their vocations.
  • More than half of the ordinands (51 percent) indicated that they were discouraged from considering the priesthood by one or more persons. Most often, this person was a friend/classmate or a family member (other than parents).

Involvement in Ministry

  • More than seven in 10 ordinands regularly participated in eucharistic adoration before entering the seminary. The same proportion prayed the rosary; almost half went to prayer group or Bible study; two in five attended high school retreats; a third took part in Lectio Divina, and more than a quarter attended college retreats.
  • Before entering the seminary, half of all ordinands participated in some parish youth groups. About three in 10 took part in a Catholic campus ministry program/Newman Center.
  • In terms of engagement in parish ministries before entering the seminary, nearly three-fourths were altar servers; three in five served as lectors; and around half served as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.
  • One in three served as catechists in campus ministry or youth ministry, or as confirmation sponsors/godparents.
  • In regard to participation in vocation programs before entering the seminary, almost half reported participating in “Come and See” weekends at a seminary or religious institute/society.

Work Experience

  • Two in three ordinands (64 percent) worked full-time prior to entering the seminary. The most common category of full-time work experience among all responding ordinands (18 percent) is business.
  • About one in eight men reported that one or both of their parents had a military career in the U.S. Armed Forces, and one in 20 served in the U.S. Armed Forces themselves.