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.


Ordination All-Stars

The research note is from the Winter edition of The CARA Report. CARA has been releasing research in this quarterly print format for nearly 20 years, since 1995, and has won a number of awards for "general excellence" from the Catholic Press Association during this time. You can get your copy here

Following the procedure originally devised by the late Fr. John Klein of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and using data from The Official Catholic Directory, from time to time CARA has reviewed the proportion of ordinations to the diocesan priesthood relative to the latest Catholic population figures for each diocese. Only Latin-rite dioceses that have had at least five ordinations during the reporting period are included.

The tables here present the results of the latest review, for the three ordination years 2010–12 and using year-end Catholic population figures for 2012. The first table lists the top 20 dioceses according to the priest-to-parishioner ratio; the second the top 21 dioceses (because of a tie) based on the largest absolute number of new priests ordained.

CARA has presented the results of the five top-20 comparisons for ordination years 1993-1995, 1997-1999, 2000-2002, 2003-2006, 2007-2009, and now 2010-2012. An analysis of the results of all six data points indicates that of the 57 dioceses that placed in the top-20 for Catholics per ordinand ratio at least once:

  • Only the Diocese of Lincoln was in the top-20 all six times
  • Three dioceses were listed five times: Bismarck, Fargo, and Wichita
  • Three more were on the list four times: Peoria, Sioux Falls, and Tyler
  • And 13 were listed three times: Alexandria, Atlanta, Birmingham, Duluth, Knoxville, Mobile, Omaha, Owensboro, Pensacola-Tallahassee, Savannah, Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Tulsa, and Yakima

At the other extreme, for the years 2010-2012, six dioceses with a total of almost 500,000 Catholics had no ordinations, and another 16 dioceses with almost 1,700,000 Catholics had only one new priest.

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