Nineteen Sixty-four is a research blog for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University edited by Mark M. Gray. CARA is a non-profit research center that conducts social scientific studies about the Catholic Church. Founded in 1964, CARA has three major dimensions to its mission: to increase the Catholic Church's self understanding; to serve the applied research needs of Church decision-makers; and to advance scholarly research on religion, particularly Catholicism. Follow CARA on Twitter at: caracatholic.


Compensation of U.S. Diocesan Priests in the Catholic Church

This post is authored by CARA Research Associate Michal Kramarek, Ph.D. and provides a brief preview of a much larger new study about salaries and benefits for priests and lay personnel in U.S. parishes. This post shows some top-level and trend information about earnings of diocesan priests. The full study can be purchased now from National Association of Church Personnel Administrators (NACPA) through their online store as a pdf download and printed report.  This research was funded by NACPA and the National Federation of Priests' Councils (NFPC).

CARA has finished crunching the numbers for the National Diocesan Survey: Salary and Benefits for Priests and Lay Personnel, 2017. One of the many questions explored in the 203-page report is how much the Catholic Church in the United States pays its priests. The median annual salary of a diocesan priest in 2017 is $29,619 (see the chart below). The median annual salary received by a newly ordained priest is $26,760 and the median annual salary for highest paid priests is $32,478.

The salary is the first, and often most substantial component of diocesan priest’s taxable income. The second component, other taxable cash income, constitutes about 20 cents of every dollar of priests’ income and includes, for example, an allowance for housing and food as well as Mass stipends, retained stole fees, and bonuses. Altogether, a diocesan priest makes $8,924 in other taxable cash income.

The least substantial component of diocesan priests’ income is other taxable non-cash income, accounting for 15 cents for every dollar of total income. Non-cash income includes, for example, diocesan housing, meals prepared for priests as well as priest retreats facilitated by the arch/diocese.

The three components add up to a median overall taxable income of $45,593 for a diocesan priest. How much is it in comparison to other U.S. males who share a similar level of education? Not very much. Between 1996 and 2017 (in the six years for which the data are available), diocesan priests’ taxable income accounted, on average, for less than half (48 percent) of the median income of men ages 25 and over, with a Master’s degree, in the United States. See the chart below (Note: The dotted line indicates missing data. The underlying data for the general population was derived from: U.S. Census Bureau. 2016. “Table P-16.  Educational Attainment--People 25 Years Old and Over by Median Income and Sex: 1991 to 2015." Historical Income Tables).  While diocesan priests’ income is relatively low, it is increasing. In the examined time period, diocesan priests’ median annual taxable income grew by 9 percent, after adjusting for inflation.

How does diocesan priests’ compensation compare across different job assignments and experience levels? How do lay employees compare to diocesan priests in terms of salary and benefits? How do all those groups compare across arch/dioceses of different sizes or different regions? Those are some of the questions CARA explored in the National Diocesan Survey: Salary and Benefits for Priests and Lay Personnel, 2017. You can see more about what the report covers in the Table of Contents.


Catholicism: The Next Generation?

This post is co-authored by Hannah Hagan, our 2017 summer research intern. She comes to CARA from Vanderbilt University and is a math major (Class of 2019).

When I came to CARA in 2002, the research center was already studying the youngest Catholic generation, the Millennials (born 1982-2004). The oldest in this cohort were just 20 years old at the time. Now they are 36. It’s 2017… time to start thinking about the next generation of Catholics who are younger than the Millennials.

CARA typically gives the secular generation a Catholic name representative of things happening in the Church as the cohort comes of age. We do so because generational differences are often among the largest and most significant sub-group findings from our national surveys. We’ve typically included the following in our reports to describe generations:

For purpose of analysis, CARA categorizes Catholic survey respondents into four generations based on life experiences especially relevant to Catholics:    
  • The “Pre-Vatican II Generation,” was born in 1942 or earlier. Its members came of age before the Second Vatican Council. 
  • The “Vatican II Generation,” are the “baby boomers” who were born between 1943 and 1960, a time of great demographic and economic growth. They came of age during the time of the Second Vatican Council and their formative years likely spanned that time of profound changes in the Church. 
  • The “Post-Vatican II Generation,” sometimes called “Generation X” or “baby busters” by demographers, has no lived experience of the pre-Vatican II Church.
  • The “Millennial Generation,” born in 1982 or later (up to 1994 among adults), have come of age primarily under the papacies of John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis. Some still live with their parents and their religious practice can closely follow that of their families of origin.

CARA has already conducted a few studies of Catholic youth and teens that have collected data on the youngest, yet unnamed, generation. They will begin to enter adulthood in 2023 and appear in our national polls at that time. Of course, they are already an important cohort in our research as they are part of the Catholic school children of today and we see them in our sacramental practice data for baptisms (13.7 million infant baptisms already from 2005-2015) and First Communions. The oldest of this generation are age 12 today and some will live to see the Church enter the 22nd century.

So what should we call Catholics of this generation? In the secular research world they have been referred to as… Homelanders, Generation Z, Boomlets, Digital Natives, and iGen. The simplest choice is just to follow Gen X with Gen Y and go with Gen Z (…and worry about what letter comes next with the generation that follows). Naming generations alphabetically seems to be an odd choice (...bit lazy as well) and limits the relevance of the name to any substantive aspect of the generation.

Should the name embrace the digital revolution? Of course this generation will have no lived experiences without iPhones, tablets, social media/networks, Fitbits, etc. They will never learn cursive handwriting and struggle to develop a signature. “And also with your spirit” will always just roll off their tongues in a natural way.

Should the name be related to international events? This is the generation with no lived experience or memory of 9/11 and the immediate aftermath. Yet, their whole life has existed in the new realities of global terrorism and reactions to this. I’m not a big fan of “recycling” the Boomers and calling them the Boomlets because their early birth years exceed the numbers of the Baby Boom. There are no similarities here as the un-named generation was and will continue to be born during record low fertility rates. 

CARA has discussed whether “Generation Francis” would be an appropriate name. The oldest members of the cohort were eight years old when his papacy began. Pope Francis is 80 now. The unnamed generation is likely to include births as late as 2025. Pope Francis would be 89 at that point and those born in that year wouldn’t likely have personal memories of the pontiff.

Is Generation Francis a bit presumptuous? Maybe not. Name the last (or next) pope that is going to be Time’s Person of the Year, appear on the cover of Rolling Stone, and be named by Fortune as one of the world’s greatest leaders? Or how about name the last pope from the Americas? The last Jesuit pope? He’s created more than 60 cardinals and this will likely have a lasting impact for some time beyond his papacy.

Perhaps the only other defining religious narrative for this generation, so far, is that they will likely come of age in an era of growing secularization. Yet, pinning this on them as a Catholic generation would seem odd as this would include only those who self-identify as Catholic. It is the case that we see a decline in sacramental practice and a slow shift from weekly to monthly Mass attendance norms among younger adult Catholics. This unnamed generation may be much less attached to a parish and its community life than members of the other existing U.S. Catholic generations.

This disconnect, is in part, a reflection of the growing digital nature of their lives. They won’t recall a time when it wasn’t possible to order groceries from home, watch movies on demand (on their phones…), shop for clothes online, or keep in touch with friends and family on an hourly basis on their social networks. They may be the first generation to think of the Bible as an app rather than a thick book. Yet, Catholicism takes place in sacred (real) spaces—in the brick and mortar of parishes. You can’t email your confession or have Communion delivered by a drone. In this regard the “digital” names for this generation in the secular world may not fit in the Catholic world.

What do you think? We need your help. Researchers will be writing about this generation in CARA reports in 2100 so you could leave a lasting impression. Join us on Twitter (@caracatholic) to let us know your ideas.

Photo courtesy of Balazs Koren


Who is Entering Religious Life?

Note: This blog is from CARA Senior Research Associate Mary L. Gautier, Ph.D. and Sr. Bibiana M. Ngundo, L.S.O.S.F., Ph.D. Sr. Bibiana is a visiting scholar to CARA from Kenya. Her work is supported by a grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

For many years, CARA has surveyed men and women religious who are professing perpetual vows in religious institutes in our “Profession Class” series. Last year, we also began surveying postulants and novices who formally entered a religious congregation, province, or monastery based in the United States. We have just completed our second annual study of this kind in our “Entrance Class” series (reports can be downloaded below).
This year, we found that about a third of responding religious institutes (32 percent) had at least one postulant or novice entering religious life in 2016. The average age of respondents of the Entrance Class of 2016 is 28.  Half of the respondents are age 26 or younger.  Nearly six in ten are women and just over four in ten are men.  Among the men, four in five expect to become priests and one in five plans to become a perpetually professed brother.

Most new entrants were born in the United States.  Of those born outside the United States, the most commonly mentioned regions are Asia and Latin America, with Vietnam and Mexico emerging as the most frequently mentioned countries of birth. Seven in ten responding entrants identify as non-Hispanic white, just over one in ten identifies as Asian, one in ten identifies as Hispanic or Latino(a), and one in 20 identifies as either African/African American/black or as “other.”

Nine in ten new entrants have been Catholic since birth and eight in ten come from families in which both parents are Catholic. Almost all respondents of the entrance class of 2016 have at least one sibling and respondents are typically one of the middle children in their family. 

Altogether, respondents report 34 countries of birth. Members of the Entrance Class of 2016 are slightly more likely than other U.S. Catholics to have attended a Catholic elementary school. In a 2016 national poll conducted by CARA, 39 percent of U.S. adult Catholics report having attended a Catholic elementary school, compared to 47 percent among these respondents. Nearly four in ten entrants in 2016 have attended a Catholic high school compared to two in ten other U.S adult Catholics. In addition, entrants are more likely than other U.S Catholics to have attended a Catholic college/university. 

The responding members of the Entrance Class of 2016 were highly educated before entering.  Half reported having earned a bachelor’s degree and about two in ten earned a graduate degree before entering their religious institute. Men are more likely than women to have attended a Catholic college before entering their religious institute while women are more likely than men to have been home schooled.

Many respondents were active in parish life as well as other religious programs or activities before entering their religious institute. Nearly all respondents participated in at least one of these programs or activities before entering religious life. Slightly less than eight in ten respondents participated in retreats. Half participated in a parish youth group, Life Teen, or campus ministry during their high school years. Nearly four in ten participated in a parish young adult group. Nearly two in three participated in a liturgical ministry in a parish, such as being a lector. Half reported participating in faith formation, catechetical ministry, or in RCIA and slightly less than half participated in music ministry, cantoring, or in the choir. Two in three participated in various types of voluntary work in a parish or other setting. One in ten participated in a volunteer program with a religious institute. Slightly more than half participated in campus ministry during college. About one-third participated in a Right to Life March in Washington. One in six participated in World Youth Day.

On average, respondents were 18 years old when they first considered a vocation to religious life. Entrants to religious life were asked how much encouragement they received from various people when they first considered entering a religious institute.  More than nine in ten mentioned a spiritual director, members of the institute, other men and women religious, and/or a vocational director/team as at least “somewhat” encouraging to them when they first considered entering a religious institute.

Two in three (66 percent) report that they got to know a priest or a religious brother or sister who was not a family member while they were growing up. Nearly another four in ten have a relative who is a priest or a religious brother or sister/nun.

Between three-fourths and nine-tenths of respondents entering religious congregations report being encouraged at least “somewhat” by these sources outside of their families: people in the parish, friends outside the institute, campus ministers, and people in their school or workplace. Between six and seven in ten report being at least “somewhat” encouraged by their parents, siblings, and other family members.

Men are more likely than women to have ever had another family member speak to them about a vocation to priesthood or religious life (37 percent for men as compared to 21 percent for women), and to say that starting a discussion with their family about their vocation was easy for them (57 percent for women as compared to 45 percent for men).

Nearly all respondents were “somewhat” or “very much” attracted to religious life by a desire for prayer and spiritual growth and by a sense of call to religious life.  Three in four or more were “very” attracted by these. About nine in ten were at least “somewhat” attracted to religious life by a desire to be of service and a desire to be part of a community.  Between about six and seven in ten say each of these attracted them “very much.” About eight in ten were at least “somewhat” attracted to religious life by a desire to be more committed to the Church.  Slightly more than half say this attracted them “very much.”

Men and women entering religious life were asked to indicate how they first became acquainted with their religious institute. About three in ten respondents report that they first became acquainted with their institute in an institute where members served, through their own internet search, and through the recommendation of a friend or advisor. Between one and two in ten respondents indicate that they became acquainted with their institute through the reputation or history of the institute, through a relative or a friend in the institute, through working with a member of the institute and through the web or social media promotional materials. Between one in 20 and one in ten respondents report that that they first became acquainted with their religious institute through an event sponsored by the institute, through print promotional materials, through a vocation match or placement service, through a vocational fair, as through a media story about the institute.

Entrants were asked how much influence various aspects of their religious institute had on their decision to enter that institute. About nine in ten respondents report community life in the institute, the lifestyles of members and the prayer styles in the institute influenced their decision to enter their religious institute at least “somewhat.”  Between half and just over six in ten say these elements influenced them “very much.”

The full report is available for download, free of charge, here: The Entrance Class of 2016. The previous year's study or the Entrance Class of 2015 is also available for download.

About the Survey
To obtain the names and contact information for entrants, CARA contacted the major superiors of all religious institutes that belong to either the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) or the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR), the two leadership conferences of apostolic women religious in the United States. CARA also contacted the major superiors of all religious institutes who belong to the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM).  Finally, CARA contacted the major superiors of 138 contemplative communities of women in the United States that were identified by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.  Each major superior was asked to provide contact information for every person who entered the institute (for the first time, as a postulant or novice) in the United States since January 1, 2016. CARA then mailed a survey to each new entrant and asked them to return their completed survey to CARA.

After repeated follow-ups, CARA received a response from 610 of 759 major superiors, for an overall response rate of 80 percent among religious institutes.  In all, 93 percent of LCWR superiors, 84 percent of CMSWR superiors, 76 percent of CMSM superiors, and 59 percent of superiors of contemplative communities provided contact information for 502 novices or postulants that entered religious life for the first time in the United States in 2016.  The Entrance Class of 2016 consists of 272 men (reported by CMSM superiors), 144 women reported by CMSWR, 66 women reported by LCWR, and 20 new entrants into contemplative communities of women. Of these 502 identified women and men, a total of 278 responded to the survey by February 2, 2017.  This represents a response rate of 55 percent among the new entrants to religious life that were reported to CARA by major superiors.

Photos show recent entrants to the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother and the Capuchin Franciscans, Province of St, Mary.


International Sisters in the United States

Researchers at Trinity Washington University and CARA have released a new study of international Catholic sisters in the United States. Based on a ground-breaking study of more than 4,000 women religious from at least 83 countries spread over six continents, the research provides an in-depth portrait and analysis of the “international sisters” who are currently in the United States for formation, studies, or ministry. Unique in the scope of the research and the timeliness of its findings, the study was accomplished through the generous support of the GHR Foundation.

Researchers Mary Johnson, SNDdeN, Mary L. Gautier, Patricia Wittberg, SC, and Thu T. Do, LHC surveyed over 4,000 women religious who were born outside the United States and conducted focus groups and interviews with another 75 international sisters.  The study was designed to learn about their backgrounds, pathways to and reasons for coming to the United States, their contribution to Church and society, and their challenges in coming to a new country and in their lives as women religious. Some of the major findings from the research include:
  • Responding international sisters come from at least 83 countries across six continents. Asia is the largest sending continent, followed by Europe, North America (Canada and Mexico, for purposes of this study), Africa, Central/South America, and Oceania.
  • The average age of international sisters at their time of arrival was 30, and four in ten have been in the United States for 15 years or less. One in five, in fact, have been here no more than five years.
  • Six in ten entered religious life outside the United States and then were sent here for ministry, studies, or formation. Three in ten came to the United States before entering religious life.
  • Fifty-seven percent of respondents were sent to the United States by their superiors for ministry, study, or formation. Fifteen percent came because a priest or bishop from the United States requested sisters from their institute for ministry.
  • These women are very highly educated, with more than half holding a graduate or professional degree and another fifth with an undergraduate degree from a college or university.
  • Two-thirds of international sisters are involved in ministries such as education or healthcare. Fourteen percent are in studies. Thirteen percent serve their institutes in leadership, vocation, and formation work. Contemplatives comprise another 5 percent of international sisters.
  • Housing is a particular challenge for women religious because community life is a vital aspect of religious life. More than four in five international sisters live with other sisters of their own institute, while 8 percent live with sisters from other institutes and 6 percent live alone. More than half of U.S. based religious institutes offer hospitality and support to international sisters who are members of other congregations.

The researchers are currently compiling the findings into a book. The GHR Foundation hosted a day-long symposium in Washington, DC, on March 3 so that key leaders in national Catholic institutions could begin conversations about the networks and structures being developed by and for international sisters to support them in their ministry and life. Project director Sister Mary Johnson explains, “The study helps us realize that our church is more diverse, wherever we are. These international sisters and the people they minister to are in rural areas, urban areas, in all kinds of institutions and ministries. They're present in so many ways that sometimes we don't even see.”  Johnson adds that a second contribution of the study is in “its juxtaposition to the wider society against the backdrop of the political debate over immigration. It demonstrates how complex and beautiful the tapestry of immigrants is in our church and in our society.”

To download the report of the key findings from the study, in English or in Spanish, please visit the GHR Foundation at


A Social Scientist’s Reflections on Ash Wednesday and Lent

The Catholic Church probably began to understand the motivational power of visible identity more than a 1,000 years ago (i.e., when record of many Lenten practices are noted in Europe). Today, nearly half of adult Catholics will receive ashes on their forehead (46%) according to CARA surveys. This is likely the third highest day for Mass attendance and it is not even a day of obligation (although some receive ashes outside of Mass as in the 2016 photo on Boston Common above). More than six in ten will not eat meat on Fridays during Lent (62%). There are few things, other than going to Mass at Christmas (about 68% attending… fewer, 52%, attend at Easter) that so many Catholics in the U.S. do together than abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent. Why? Because during Lent, in many ways, Catholics have opportunities to wear their religious identity. This contributes to their sense of belonging, where many other aspects of their faith may call more on their obligation to believe. On Ash Wednesday, your religious identity and sense of belonging is worn on your head. On Fridays, these are on your plate (and then on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram). Of course, this is just one aspect of the season but it is important in the broader explanation of why U.S. Catholics become most active in their faith during this time of year.

When people have an opportunity to wear their identities (and possibly feel guilt for not doing so), they will do so in large numbers. This is also now evident in voter turnout numbers (the topic of my dissertation). Sixty percent of eligible voters cast a ballot in 2016. Undoubtedly, some had extra motivation to do so to get the sticker that visibly indicated they voted. Perhaps later they used it for free food and coffee. Rational choice economists assume the "costs" of voting are small—about $10 or $15 (travel, time, and information costs). The value of the sticker indicating you voted, along with potential freebies, I believe help solve "the paradox of voting" (i.e., costs of voting in large elections exceeds benefits—your vote counts but doesn't “matter” because no large electorate election is likely to come down to one vote and if it ever did, recounts or the courts would likely be the deciding factor).

At the same time, research has also revealed that creating opportunities to wear social identities can also have negative consequences. Social psychology has repeatedly found in experiments that similar people who are randomly divided into competing groups by things as trivial as eye color, group names, or role play can create in-group/out-group prejudice and discrimination very quickly and substantially. This is the negative side of membership and belonging to a group. Certainly many Catholics and other Protestants who observe Ash Wednesday become more physically distinct than others do for a day. Over the years, some Catholics and Protestants have reported incidents of possible workplace discrimination on Ash Wednesday.

We often choose to wear other kinds of labels on clothing. Why do people purchase products with specific visual labels rather than generic t-shirts, jeans, shoes, or bags? Part of the explanation is that they do so, in part, to promote an image to others as a component of their social identity. The things we wear can reflect our status or that we prefer a specific lifestyle or role. People will pay much more for a labeled item than one of a similar quality without a label. The identity provided by the label seems to really matter.

This status aspect of visible identity could also be considered a negative—especially when applied to Lenten practices. Ashes on the forehead were never meant to become part of a prideful selfie (they are an acknowledgement of our own mortality). Pictures of plates full of fried seafood and tartar sauce don’t really embrace the spirit of abstinence either. In theory, one might use some of the money saved from eating fish or vegetarian to donate to the poor. However, these days, a takeout salad or a plate full of fried shrimp and chips may be more expensive than the steak a Catholic could prepare for themselves some other day of the week. When the fat and calorie count of you Friday dinner during Lent exceeds what you might otherwise eat (and you take a picture of it and post it online) there might be a cultural disconnect from the traditions of Lent. At the same time, if this makes Catholics more likely to be active in their faith, perhaps it might best be tolerated or even embraced.

Outside of Lent, there are certainly other days and ways where Catholics could choose to “wear their faith.” Yet, CARA surveys indicate that only about a third regularly wear a crucifix or cross (32%) and even fewer wear a religious medal or pin of a saint or angel (29%), or a scapular (9%). Nearly a quarter regularly carry a rosary (23%) and one in five carries prayer cards or coins (20%). Why do so few Catholics do these things? What makes the ashes and the Friday foods during Lent so much more a part of Catholics’ devotional practices? Perhaps it is the seasonality of it all. If Catholics received ashes at every Mass, it would just become part of the routine of worship.

Social scientists have much to learn about human behavior from what Catholics and other Christians do on this day and those ahead during this season. For a social scientist who studies religion, it is one of the most fascinating. As a Catholic, even more so because it marks the beginning of the most energetic season of activity for the Church—a time of reflection, penance, prayer, and devotion.

Images courtesy of: The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, Churl Han, Omer Unlu, vintspiration, elycefeliz, and David Galalis.


The Changing Geography of Catholic Seminaries

Summary: Worldwide, the number of seminaries seems to have grown significantly over the last century. Currently, only one in five seminaries are located in Europe and North America. Countries with the most seminaries are India (1,096 seminaries), Brazil (1,010 seminaries), and Italy (407 seminaries). A strong, positive correlation exists between the total number of priests and the overall number of philosophy and theology seminaries. Likewise, a strong, positive correlation exists between the size of Catholic population and the number of diocesan philosophy and theology seminaries. CARA is releasing the Directory of Catholic Seminaries (see the links at the bottom of this post) containing a wealth of information about seminaries around the world. Michal Kramarek, Ph.D. led the research for this project and is the author of this post.

The Catholic Encyclopedia published in 1912 includes a list of English-speaking seminaries throughout the world. The Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae from 2012 includes a list enumerating seminaries in virtually all countries around the world. The table below compares the data from these two sources.

Overall, the number of seminaries increased significantly over the last century in eight countries where the data is available. This is mostly due to the change in the number of seminaries in India and United States. In three countries the number of seminaries is the same or almost the same: Great Britain, Ireland, and New Zealand.

Overall Number of Seminaries in 2013
Using the data from the Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae for 2013 allows one to map the concentration of Catholic seminaries around the world. The underlying data covers 95 percent of all ecclesiastical jurisdictions around the world. The data used here is a sum of all seminaries and residences, seminaries for diocesan priests and religious priests, secondary school programs as well as philosophy and theology programs. Thus, the number of seminaries here tends to be higher than the number of seminaries-institutions in each country. It should be also noted that the map (click on the map to see a larger version) combines Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao, and Mainland China. The underlying data includes ten seminaries spread between Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao but the number of seminaries in Mainland China is not available.

The median number of seminaries is 12 and the average is 48 per country for all countries where a seminary can be found. Countries with the most seminaries are India (1,096 seminaries), Brazil (1,010 seminaries), and Italy (407 seminaries).

Only one in five seminaries (20 percent) is located in Europe (16 percent) and North America (four percent). By comparison, 29 percent of seminaries are located in Asia and Oceania, 27 percent in South America, and 16 percent in Africa. The growth of the Catholic Church in the global south is seen by a larger number of seminaries in the Democratic Republic of Congo (159) than in Poland (90), a larger number in India (1,096) than in Italy (407), a larger number in Columbia (277) than in the United States (243).

Among countries which have at least one seminary:
  • In Africa, the highest number of seminaries can be found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (159 seminaries), Nigeria (153 seminaries), and Kenya (80 seminaries); the fewest seminaries can be found in Djibouti, Gambia, and Mauritius (each has one seminary);
  • In Asia, the highest number of seminaries can be found in India (1,096 seminaries), Philippines (329 seminaries), and Indonesia (157 seminaries); the fewest seminaries can be found in Jordan, Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Singapore, and Turkmenistan (each has one seminary);
  • In Central America, the highest number of seminaries can be found in Mexico (343 seminaries), Dominican Republic (32 seminaries), and Guatemala (28 seminaries); the fewest seminaries can be found in Netherlands Antilles (five seminaries), Puerto Rico (four seminaries), as well as Trinidad and Tobago (one seminary);
  • In Europe, the highest number of seminaries can be found in Italy (407 seminaries), Spain (184 seminaries), and Poland (90 seminaries); the fewest seminaries can be found in Armenia, Denmark, Faeroe Islands, Finland, Gibraltar, Macedonia, Norway, and Sweden (each has one seminary);
  • In North America, there are two countries with seminaries: United States (243 seminaries) and Canada (45 seminaries);
  • In Oceania, the highest number of seminaries can be found in Papua New Guinea (25 seminaries), Australia (23 seminaries), and Fiji (seven seminaries); the fewest seminaries can be found in Guam (two seminaries), Kiribati (two seminaries), and French Polynesia (three seminaries);
  • In South America, the highest number of seminaries can be found in Brazil (1,010 seminaries), Colombia (277 seminaries), and Peru (152 seminaries); the fewest seminaries can be found in Suriname (two seminaries) and Uruguay (seven seminaries).

Relationship Between the Number of Seminaries and Number of Priests
Using the data from the Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae for 2012 allows for an exploration of the statistical relationship between the number of seminaries (i.e., including both seminaries and residences) and the number of priests. The table below captures this relationship using correlation coefficients. Correlation coefficient can vary in value from -1 to 1. A value of more than 0.5 indicates positive, moderate relationship. A value of more than 0.7 indicates positive, strong relationship.

The correlation between all variables is positive and ranges from 0.37 to 0.86. Notably:
  • There is a positive, strong correlation between the number of bishops and the overall number of philosophy and theology seminaries and residences in countries around the world.
  • There is a positive, strong correlation between the number of diocesan priests and the number of diocesan philosophy and theology seminaries and residences in countries around the world.
  • There is a positive, strong correlation between the number of religious priests and the number of religious clergy philosophy and theology seminaries and residences in countries around the world.
  • The correlations are relatively weak between secondary seminaries (both, religious and diocesan) and the number of priests (and bishops).

A strong, positive correlation exists between the total number of priests and the overall number of philosophy and theology seminaries. This correlation is stronger for religious priests and weaker for diocesan priests (see the table above).

Among 129 countries where the data was available:
  • Countries with the highest total number of priests are Italy, United States, and Poland.
  • Countries with the most philosophy and theology seminaries are Brazil, India and Italy.
  • Countries with the highest number of priests per seminary (philosophy and/or theology) are South Africa, Taiwan (China), and Ireland.

Relationship Between the Number of Seminaries and Population Size
Using the data from the Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae for 2012 allows one to explore the relationship between the number of seminaries and the size of general population.

The correlation between all variables is positive and ranges from 0.24 to 0.96. The correlation between general population and the number of seminaries is relatively weak. There is a positive, strong correlation between Catholic population and the total number of seminaries. Most notably, there is a very strong, positive correlation between the number of diocesan philosophy and theology seminaries on one side and the Catholic population on the other side.

A strong, positive correlation exists between the size of Catholic population and the number of diocesan philosophy and theology seminaries. This correlation highlights the geographic balance of developing seminary education where the Catholic population is present.

Among 126 countries where the data was available:
  • Countries with the biggest Catholic population are Brazil, Mexico, and Philippines.
  • Countries with the most diocesan philosophy and theology seminaries are Brazil, Italy, and Philippines.
  • Countries with the highest number of Catholics per diocesan philosophy and theology seminary are Tanzania, South Sudan, and Honduras.

The complete Directory of Catholic Seminaries is available for download now (Adobe pdf files):
Part I. General Overview
Part II. Africa
Part III. Central America
Part IV. North America
Part V. South America
Part VI. Asia
Part VII. Europe
Part VIII. Oceania

Photo of St. Mary's Seminary & University in Baltimore courtesy of Forsaken Fotos.


Parish Reorganizations and Parishioner Giving

This post is the first of a series here, on CARA’s website, and CARA’s social media sites about a new landmark study of Catholic parish life in the United States, Catholic Parishes of the 21st Century (Oxford University Press, 2017). This volume brings together findings from multiple national projects that CARA researchers and Charles Zech have conducted in recent years to provide a 360 view of parish life today. It is an intentional update to the groundbreaking Notre Dame Study of Catholic Parish Life in the 1980s. It is available for order now. Stay tuned as there will be much more to come from this volume here and elsewhere from CARA.

Managing the typical Catholic parish’s finances in the United States is a difficult task. Many parishes are aging structures with significant maintenance and repair costs. Two out of three parishes in the country today were established before 1950 and more parishes have been closing each year than opening since the 1990s. The Church has been adjusting to a geographical realignment of the Catholic population for decades. Two-thirds of Catholics lived in the Northeast and Midwest as recently as 1985. Now, only 51 percent of Catholics live in these regions with growing numbers living in the South and West.

In the Northeast and Midwest, pastors often have had to deal with declining numbers of parishioners and increasing costs for maintenance in older parishes. Parish finances are heavily dependent on the giving of parishioners. With fewer people in the pews, pastors must do more with less. Bishops have noticed the shifts in the Catholic population as well and also often need to deal with declining numbers of active diocesan priests available to serve as pastors. So many dioceses in the Northeast and Midwest have either used Canon 517.2, entrusting the pastoral care of a parish to a deacon or lay person, or have reorganized by closing, merging, and clustering parishes.

One of the findings of Catholic Parishes of the 21st Century is that parishioners in a Canon 517.2 parish or in parishes affected by the creation of a new parish are more likely than those in the typical parish to give more to their weekly collections. Parishioners give less than the parishioner in the typical parish when their community is the result of a merger, is affected by a nearby closure of a parish, or when their parish is placed in a cluster or other partnership with nearby parishes.

The typical parishioner household in the United States gives just under $10 to the weekly collection at their parish. Imagine a small parish with the regular attendance of 500 family households and 100 single parishioners. Giving, $9.43, on average, this would result in a total weekly collection of $5,658. Multiply that by 52 weeks and the grand total comes to $294,216. Parishes have other sources of revenue but this would represent a significant chunk of the annual resources.

Parish communities that are merged, affected by a nearby closure, or that have been clustered often get bigger as multiple communities are brought together in some form. Canon 517.2 parishes are typically small parishes where a priest is unavailable but there are no nearby parishes where a merger of cluster is feasible. A parish affected by the creation of a new parish may lose some of its parishioners to this new worship site or actually be this new community.

Is giving by parishioners sensitive to the size of community? It appears so. Catholic Parishes of the 21st Century does show that giving in a parish with 300 households is higher than parishes with more than 1,500 households. In the smaller parishes the average given per week is $11.63 per household ($181,428 annual total). In the largest parishes the average given per week is $7.05 per household ($549,900 annual total).

When parish reorganizations take place, the sizes of parishes change in a dioceses. These parishes should expect changes in the amounts given by parishioners, perhaps in response to perceptions of need, given the size of the community. Some may also seek to express dissatisfaction with changes and give less, while others may look to support their community more given the changes that take place. The case of the Canon 517.2 parish is interesting. In these communities, parishioners likely used to have a resident priest pastor. They may have struggled with Catholic population losses and eventually considered the possibility they might have their parish closed. The appointment of a deacon or lay person to provide the pastoral care of the parish (i.e., including arranging for priests to be available for Mass and sacraments) may be a blessing to them as they get to maintain their community. This may lead them to give more to support it.

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