Jan 2, 2007

How Many Catholics Does a Priest Serve?

Which countries and dioceses have the most and least favorable ratios of priests to Catholics? Here are interesting statistics on the average number of Catholics per priest in various locations around the world.

USA (Statistics from the Official Catholic Directory of 2004)

The U.S. has an estimated 41,794 priests for 64 million Catholics in 2006, resulting in 1,531 Catholics per priest.

The Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas had 157 priests for 191,203 Catholics, or 1,218 Catholics per priest, with 16.0 percent of the population being Catholic.

In the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, there were 209 priests for 144,483 Catholics, or 691 Catholics per priest--with 10.4 percent of the population being Catholic.

Bishop Bruskewitz had 157 priests for 89,431 Catholics, resulting in 570 Catholics per priest in the Lincoln, Nebraska diocese, with 16.6 percent of the population being Catholic.

Tulsa, Oklahoma had 104 priests for 56,094 Catholics, with a ratio of 539 Catholics per priest, with 3.7 percent of the population being Catholic.

Los Angeles had 1,153 priests for 4,174,304 Catholics, with a ratio of 3,620 Catholics per priest, with 37.6 percent of the population being Catholic.

Boston had 1,529 priests for a Catholic population of 2,077,487, resulting in 1,359 Catholics per priest, with 52.3 percent of the population being Catholic.


The Tagbilaran diocese in the central Philippines has 541,545 people, 95 percent of which are Catholic. Serving its 50 parishes are 171 priests. The ratio in this diocese is 1 priest for every 2,850 Catholics.


Twenty priests are reported to serve the 70,000 Catholics of the Diocese of Chifeng, with a ratio of 3,500 Catholics per priest. It is probable that these figures are from the patriotic church, rather than the underground church that acknowledges the primacy of the Pope in Rome.

China Daily, a communist news outlet, noted that there are 5.2 million Chinese Catholics in 2004, with only 1,200 priests, resulting in a ratio of 4,333 Catholics per priest--presumably counting only the patriotic priests.

However, the People Daily said in 2002 there are about 1,500 Catholic priests in the country, who have been trained by the Catholic Church of China, for 3,467 Catholics per priest. So take your choice between the communist China Daily or the communist People Daily.

I tried to find numbers of priests and Catholics in the underground Roman Catholic Church in China, but even the well-respected Cardinal Kung Foundation doesn't seem to have these numbers.


Catholics in the Pope's homeland comprise 33.2% of the country's 82 million people, says a report published by the Vatican press office. Catholics number 27.4 million, with a ratio of
1,456 Catholics to 1 priest.


There are 180 million people in Brazil, with 61 percent now being Catholic, according to Cardinal Hummes. That calculates to 110 million Catholics in Brazil (a relatively recent loss of at least 10 million members), with 16,598 priests in 2001, for a ratio of 1 priest per 6,615 Catholics.


There were 13,173 priests in Mexico in 2001 for 93.6 million Catholics (89% Catholic population), with 7,105 Catholics per priest.


Uganda's Catholics total 11. 1 million, and the number of Catholic priests is 1,564. The ratio is 7,097 Catholics per priest.

Conclusion: Other places in the world are a lot worse off than we are in the middle of the U.S.



A good point to ponder. And a good reason to pray not only for more priests, but for the sanctification of the priests we already have. For a holy priests is the best thing for future vocations.

cranky said...

I like the statistical approach. It shows precisely where we are and how much the answers to our country's problems resolve to more priests who love the Lord and are committed to serving Him.

To increase our number of priests, we need to raise sons in homes characterized by loving obedience to the Holy Spirit's leading. If a boy sees his parents following the Lord even when it's difficult, he might learn that's what a man's supposed to do.

Then, if he has a vocation, he might just follow it.

But that could mean no grandchildren.

That means this priest thing gets pretty serious for the whole family when it moves beyond talk.

And then there is another problem: It's easy to talk the talk when my sons are too old or too married to do it.

But maybe, just maybe one of my two grandsons....

Johnson County Catholic said...

The high Catholics to priest ratio in KCK is due to all those Johnson County Catholics!


Anonymous said...

I am interested in the numbers that you gave. But do you have numbers from about 1900 up to about 2000? Those would be interesting numbers, I think.