The Hope That Lies Before Us

Committee on the Allocation and Recruitment of Priests
This committee has been appointed by Cardinal Keeler to review local and nation data from CARA (a national organization which drafts statistical summaries for religious groups) and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops regarding the anticipated reduction in the number of Archdiocesan priests available for parish ministry. CARP is asked to develop recommendations that will ensure the quality of pastoral care of parish communities for at least the next decade. Read the report.

Active Service
It is estimated that there will be less than 150 active priests in the Archdiocese of Baltimore by 2015. This assumes that there are five ordinations each year, and that a portion of priests continue to serve after retirement age.

Average Ages
Currently the average age of a priest is between 58 and 59 ½. By 2015 it is projected that the aveage age for priests will be close to 61.

Average Parish Size
From 1900-1950, nationally the number of our parishes grew almost as fast as the Catholic population. In the second half of the 20th century it did not. Nationally, there are over 3,000 Catholics per parish today. But this is much higher in some areas. According to the Official Catholic Directory, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Dioceses of Las Vegas, Brownsville, Orange, El Paso and Rockville center claim to have some parishes with more 10,000 Catholics.

How This Has Impacted Catholic Communities – Priest Assignment Patterns

  • Percentage of Pastors with one parish – 73%
  • Pastors Administering to Multiple Parishes:
    • Percentage of diocese report doing this now “somewhat” or “very much” – 56%
    • Percentage report they expect to do so within 10 years – 60%

Entrusting the Pastoral Care of a Parish to Someone Other Than a Priest

  • Percentage of diocese report appointing someone other than a priest to the pastoral care of a parish – 22%
  • Percentage report they expect to do so within 10 years – 53%

Several Priests Serving as a Team

  • Percentage of diocese assigning priests to serve one or more parish as a team – 6%
  • Percentage report they expect to do so within 10 years – 36%

Closing Parishes

  • Percentage of dioceses report having closed parishes in an effort to address the issue of fewer priests – 13%

Cooperation Among Parishes to Share Ministry Staff

  • Percentage of dioceses utilizing this strategy to address the issue of fewer priests – 37%

Reduction in the Number of Masses

  • Percentage of dioceses reducing the number of masses at present time – 42%
  • Percentage report they expect to do so within 10 years – 69%