Young People's Consideration of Priesthood and Religious Life Among Never-Married U.S. Catholics

October 9, 2012: In winter 2012, the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) commissioned the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University to conduct a national poll of never-married Catholics regarding their consideration of a vocation. CARA partnered with GfK Custom Research (formerly Knowledge Networks) to conduct the survey in May and June 2012. The survey was completed by 1,428 respondents, resulting in a margin of sampling error of ±2.6 percentage points.

This study identifies subgroups in the never-married Catholic population—including teens and adults—and compares those who have considered a vocation at least "a little seriously" to those who say they have not considered this or who say they did so, but not seriously.

Overall, 12 percent of male respondents say they considered becoming a priest or brother at least a little seriously. Ten percent of female respondents say they considered becoming a religious sister at least a little seriously. The subgroups that are especially likely to have considered a vocation include:

  • Weekly Mass attenders (now and in high school)
  • Those who attended Catholic educational institutions at any level (excluding parish-based religious education)
  • Those who participated in Church-related groups, programs, or activities as a youth or young adult
  • Those who lived in households where parents talked to them about religion at least once a week
  • Those who say their faith is the most important part of their life (now and in high school)
  • Those who participate in prayer and devotional activities, groups, or programs (e.g., Bible study, Eucharistic adoration, retreats, or prayer groups)
  • Those who pray the rosary at least weekly (alone or in a group)
  • Those belonging to a group that encourages devotion to Mary
  • Those who were encouraged to consider a vocation by someone else (e.g., family, friends, clergy, religious)
  • Those who regularly read the Bible or pray with Scripture
  • Those who personally know priests and men and women religious (in their extended family or outside of it)
  • Those who have participated in parish ministry (e.g., Lectors, Ministers of Holy Communion, Youth Ministers)
  • Those who have participated in World Youth Day or a National Catholic Youth Conference
  • Those who have recently accessed religious and spiritual content in traditional or new media

There are some generational differences in the consideration of vocations. A low point appears within the Post-Vatican II Generation (i.e., those born 1961 to 1981) with less than one in ten male and female respondents of this generation saying they have considered a vocation at least "a little" seriously. Vocational consideration appears to rebound slightly among the Millennial Generation (i.e., those born after 1981), particularly among men of this generation.

For the full press release, click below:

Read More



Support CARA

You can support CARA's mission to provide sound, objective research in the service of the Catholic Church.


CARA News Feed

    click for the latest news citing CARA

CARA on twitter