The report also suggests that the demand for Spanish-speaking priests is on the rise.
A survey of this year’s U.S. ordination class is highlighting an increase of incoming priests of Latino heritage. The research, conducted by Georgetown’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), found that 22% of the newly ordained were Latino, the highest portion ever recorded in the states.
The report found that about one in four (26%) of U.S. priests ordained in 2022 are foreign born. Of this figure the most common country of origin is Mexico (6%), followed by Vietnam (4%). The average age that foreign-born ordinates entered seminary was 22, after having lived in the U.S. for an average of 13 years.
According to a report from National Catholic Register, Hispanic Catholics make up only 8.5% of the U.S. clergy, a portion that the Associated Press reported as low as 3% in 2020. The portion of U.S. Catholics who are Hispanic, however, is around 45%. NCR noted that when taking into account Catholics under the age of 18, this figure rises to 60%.
The foreign-born Catholic Hispanic population mirrors the rate of foreign born priests at 26%, and even fewer (20%) are not fluent in English. In the group of Hispanic Catholics under the age of 18, 94% were born in America and speak English fluently. NCR found that minors who live with immigrant family members are more likely to continue practicing their faith after they become adults.
The demand for Spanish-speaking priests is on the rise as well. Around 70% of Catholic parishes in the U.S. offer Spanish-language Masses, while the AP reported around 40% of the Catholic population is Spanish-speaking. NCR notes that only about 15 of the 41 U.S. priests ordained from the diocese of Orange in the last 10 years can speak or read Spanish.