Review of scientific research on Catholic Vocational Recruitment

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Wed, 06/01/1983
End Date: 
Tue, 12/31/1985

By 1983, many church leaders had observed that the number of priests serving their dioceses was diminishing, but no national statistics on clerical vocations existed. In order to address this problem, Fr. Eugene Hemrick of the United States Catholic Conference proposed conducting a review of the social scientific literature relevant to the apparent decline in priestly vocations. With the assistance of a grant from the Lilly Endowment, Dean Hoge and Raymond Potvin of the Catholic University of America undertook such a review, in cooperation with Fr. Hemrick and the U.S.C.C. They examined historical and theological writings as well as social scientific literature, concentrating particularly on four issues--the scope of the decline, whether it was unique or cyclical, regional and ethnic variations, and the relevance of the psychological literature on religious leadership. In a booklet entitled Research on Men's Vocations to the Priesthood and the Religious Life, Hoge, Potvin, and Kathleen Ferry presented an overview of their findings addressed to a popular audience. The booklet, which was published in 1984, also contained a bibliography and commentaries by Joseph A. Komonchak, Richard P. McBrien, and Philip J. Murnion.