Future of Priestly Ministry
Optional Celibacy
Priest Shortage at a Glance

Here are projections of the net loss of priests in your diocese by the year 2005 as found in Richard Schoenherr and Lawrence Young's book, Full Pews and Empty Altars (University of Wisconsin Press, 1993).

(Individual projections for smaller dioceses may fluctuate dramatically because "According to the 'law of large numbers,' a strong trend becomes evident only after observing larger and large numbers of relevant events....Thus, recording thousands upon thousands of transition events in many dioceses over many years has revealed the national trends in the demographic transition of the clergy," p. 76, Full Pews and Empty Altars. )

These projections were recently extended to 2015 by Professor Lawrence Young, who compared his study projections for 1995 with the actual numbers reported in the 1995 Official Catholic Directory. He found a less than one percent difference. By the year 2015 Young predicts a loss of more than 16,000 priests in the U.S., a decline of nearly 46%.

Aside from the net loss of priests, our priest population is aging, so that by the year 2005, U.S. priests will be older with almost half being 55 or above and only one in eight under 35. To compound the crisis, the total number of U.S. Catholics is expected to increase by 65% in the same period.

Currently 27% of U.S. parishes do not have a resident priest according to the 2000 study done by the US Bishops. An estimated 58,000 parishes and 112,000 mission stations worldwide are without a priest according to the 1997 Vatican Statistical Yearbook.

View the statistics.