success stories

Posted July 11, 2003

The Latest Statistics on the Catholic Church in the U.S.
from the Official Catholic Directory

Diocesan and Religious Priests, Sisters and Deacons

Although the number of priests and religious continued to decrease, the number of Catholics in the country increased by about 2 percent to 66.4 million, a level on par with the overall population growth rate. Catholics continue to represent about 23 percent of the total U.S. population.

Between 2002 and this year the total number of diocesan and religious priests nationwide dropped by 1,226 to 44,487. Of that, 29,715 are diocesan priests, down by 714 from the previous year, and 14,772 are members of religious orders, down by 472.

The number of newly ordained priests was reported at 449, 30 fewer than in the previous year.

There were decreases in the number of sisters, by 802 to 74,698 and the number of religious brothers, with 122 fewer for a total of 5,568.

The number of permanent deacons continued an upward trend, however, with 342 more this year than last, for a total of 14,106.

Marriages, Baptisms, First Communions, Conversions

Fewer marriages were reported nationwide, down by 14,836 to 241,727.

Among people joining the church, the number of infant baptisms decreased by 2,226 to 1,005,490, but the number of adult baptisms grew by 1,121 to 81,013.

The number of people coming into full communion with the church also was higher in the 2003 directory, at 82,292, an increase of 1,052.

There were more first Communions and confirmations as well, with 897,635 first Communions reported in the newest edition, up by 5,103, and 637,705 confirmations, up by 9,564.

The Catholic School Situation

The total number of students in high school religious education was up by just under 1,000 to total 767,739. In elementary school religious education there were more than 35,000 new students, for a total of nearly 3.6 million.

That compares to the 686,651 students in Catholic high schools and 1.9 million children in church elementary schools. Those figures represented a decline of 4,805 students in Catholic high schools and 34,179 fewer in elementary schools.

Nationwide, 38 diocesan or parish high schools opened during the reporting period, while five private Catholic secondary schools closed. There were 150 new parish or diocesan elementary schools and 43 new private ones.

Church-run Medical Services, Orphanages

Church-run medical services continued to stretch farther with fewer resources.

With 12 fewer Catholic hospitals nationwide, nevertheless the 585 remaining served more than 1.5 million more patients for a total of nearly 84 million.

There was a growth in the number of Catholic residential homes for children, or orphanages, with 50 new ones for a total of 226, which served 714,253 young people.

About the Official Catholic Directory

The Official Catholic Directory includes names, addresses and phone listings for all Catholic dioceses, parishes, missions, schools, hospitals, religious orders, universities and other church institutions in the United States and its territories. The 186-year-old directory also has an alphabetical index of all priests and bishops.

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Editor's Note: The Official Catholic Directory costs $319 per copy. Clergy discounts are available. For information call (800) 473-7020 from the United States or Canada. From other countries, the number to call is (908) 673-1001.