By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
There are now about the same number of priests worldwide as there were in 1970 — about 415,000 — according to a recent story by Catholic News Service.
However, the global population of Catholics has grown dramatically since then, particularly in Africa and Asia, so there are fewer priests per Catholic, the CNS story concluded.
Fewer priests doing more work is a trend the Archdiocese of Louisville has experienced as well.
According to statistics provided by the Chancery, as of today there are 191 priests in the Archdiocese of Louisville. This number includes diocesan priests, religious order priests and foreign-born priests, both active and retired, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz.
The total number of diocesan priests decreased from 278 in 1970, to 255 in 1980, 218 in 1990, 180 in 2000, 161 in 2006 and 142 in 2010.
Of today’s 191 serving here, there are 141 diocesan priests, 42 religious order priests and seven priests who are visiting from other dioceses, as well as the archbishop.
Currently 59 of the diocesan priests are officially retired. But, 83 percent (49) of retired diocesan priests still serve in some capacity. Religious order priests do not officially retire.
In the next five years, an additional 19 diocesan priests will be eligible for retirement at age 70. Fifteen of those currently hold leadership positions in a parish as pastor, administrator or associate pastor.
In five years, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz will also be of retirement age, which is 75 for bishops. Canon law requires bishops to submit their resignation to the pope at that age.
Through relationships cultivated with dioceses in other parts of the world, a growing number of priests born in foreign countries have come to serve in the archdiocese.
Currently, there are 18 foreign-born priests with four, possibly five, more planning to arrive this summer. Five of the 18 are priests of the Archdiocese of Louisville, six are foreign religious order priests and seven are temporarily serving in the archdiocese.
These 18 priests hail from nine countries — Nigeria, Mexico, Vietnam, El Salvador, India, Ghana, South Korea, Uganda and Bolivia.
Age of priests
Below is a breakdown of ages (by the end of 2016) of the 191 active and retired priests in the archdiocese.
- 36 are between the ages of 60-69.
- 32 are between the ages of 50-59.
- 25 are between the ages of 40-49.
- 86 priests are 70 or older.
- 12 priests are under 40.
There are currently 14 seminarians in various stages of formation for priesthood in the archdiocese, with several more in the discernment and application phases.
Two of those — Deacons Michael Martin and Casey Sanders — are expected to be ordained priests next year.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz indicated that he would like to see 25 to 30 men in seminary studying to be priests.
“When I was taught how to pray, I was taught to be specific. I pray for 25 to 30 seminarians,” he said with chuckle during an interview last week.