Roman Catholic Priests

The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts average employment growth for clergy in general through 2024. There is a shortage of priests in the Roman Catholic Church, however, with the number of priests having declined by about 31 percent since 1985 because of retirement and those leaving the profession for other reasons. Opportunities for positions in the priesthood are increasing and will probably continue to do so for the foreseeable future. In 2016, there were 25,760 diocesan priests and 11,432 religious priests serving the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. Both numbers showed a slight decline from 2016. Priests are needed in all areas of the country, but the greatest need is in metropolitan areas that have large Catholic populations and in communities near Catholic educational institutions.  

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