If we’re to resolve the vocations crisis in the United States, it might be helpful to determine who’s seeking ordination already. A new study from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University provides a trove of information that could explain precisely that.
The most interesting statistic may be the age at which 2019’s American ordinands first considered a vocation to the priesthood. Just 36 per cent of men responded that they were 18 or older. Meanwhile, 40 per cent were between the ages of 5 and 13. That suggests it would be in the Church’s interest to pique boys’ own interest at a young age. Recruitment to the holy priesthood can’t begin too young.
Traditionally, this is one of the points of altar-serving. Altar boys are, as Evelyn Waugh put it, apprentice-priests. And, sure enough, CARA finds that an impressive 78 per cent of this year’s ordinands had been altar boys at some period in their lives. Compare this statistic to the more modern roles for “lay participation,” such as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. Just 44 per cent of ordinands reported acting as extraordinary ministers before they entered seminary.
[Read more at the Catholic Herald.]