Statistics From A Survey Taken By
the National Association of Hispanic Priests
A major finding of the study reports that young Hispanic men who are assimilated into U.S. society "do not view the priesthood as a praiseworthy profession." Overcoming this perception is a major challenge Hispanic communities.
In 1999, the ratio of priests to Hispanics Catholics was one priest for every 9,925 Hispanic Catholics. For the entire Catholic population in the U.S., the ratio was one priest per 1,230 Catholics.
According to the 2000 U.S. Census, Latinos represent 12.7 percent of the U.S. population, up from 9 percent in 1990.
By region, the Midwest had the largest growth of Hispanics from 1990 to 2000 -- 81 percent. In 1990, 2.9 percent of the Midwestern population included Hispanics. Ten years later it grew to 4.9 percent. These numbers are especially significant to Catholic Church leaders because a majority of Hispanics claim Catholicism as their religion.
The survey revealed a tendency among younger Hispanics not to value the role of ordained priests, a shift from earlier generations. There is also a negative image of priests that stems from past incidents of sexual abuse.
The study concluded that in order to counteract the growing vocations crisis in the Hispanic community, attitudes and images will have to change.
First, the value systems of Hispanics based on materialism must be challenged. Hispanic youths are looking for monetary rather than spiritual rewards. Offering mission experiences through church youth groups can give young people a new perspective on serving others.
Visiting areas around the country that are economically depressed, and helping the elderly and the poor in those areas by repairing homes and cleaning yards, offers a satisfaction not experienced by purchasing the latest home electronic gadget at Best Buy. Every parish should offer at least one mission experience each year.
Next, parental support for ordained ministry must be won back. If parents do not promote the priesthood at home among their own children, how are other church leaders expected to get very far?
Hispanic parents who were interviewed for the survey cited "negative media propaganda related to sexual improprieties" as one reason for a vocations crisis.
Finally, giving youths opportunities to connect with priests in a social setting is seen as a possible way of dispelling false impressions of priests. Healthy, happy priests are needed to serve as role models.