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on October 30, 2005
The First Five Years of the Priesthood is a good book not only for those currently in leadership within the Church but also for those men who are discerning possible vocations to the priesthood. The data in this book gives a good inside look at what priests think about their jobs. The real benefit of this book is the candor of the interviewed priests. To often books about religious vocations are overly romanticized and not very realistic. This book gives hard numbers and allows priest both active, retired, and resigned a chance to tell their stories. Those who are discerning a possible religious vocation would do well to read this book because it takes the time to show multiple views of the priesthood. For those interested in the subject of selection and formation of future priests, check out Goodbye Brave Men by Michael Rose.
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on October 5, 2003
Written Dean R. Hoge (Professor of Sociology at The Catholic University of America), The First Five Years Of The Priesthood: A Study Of newly Ordained Catholic Priests) is the gathered knowledge from interviews with five hundred priests who were within five years of ordination and seventy-two recently ordained priests who had resigned. Examining both the reasons why 10 to 15 percent of newly ordained priests resign (loneliness, feeling unappreciated, problems with celibacy and disillusionment are among the main causes) and the advice that active priests have for those seeking to serve in ministry, The First Five Years Of The Priesthood is fascinating and strongly recommended reading for anyone considering becoming a Catholic priest or who has an interest in contemporary trends within clergy of the Roman Catholic Church.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon October 27, 2010
Dean R. Hoge (1937-2008) was an American sociologist, who spent decades studying American Catholics, especially empirical surveys on the priesthood. He has also written books such as Evolving Visions of the Priesthood: Changes from Vatican II to the Turn of the New Century,International Priests in America: Challenges And Opportunities,The Next Generation of Pastoral Leaders: What the Church Needs to Know (Emerging Models of Pastoral Leadership), and Pastors In Transition: Why Clergy Leave Local Church Ministry (Pulpit and Pew Series).

He writes in the Author's Preface to this 2002 book, "Early in 1999 the National Federation of Priests' Councils asked me if I and others ... could begin a study of the problems of recently ordained Catholic priests. Reports were comimg in from all sides that many newly ordained men were feeling demoralized and some were resigning... We researchers listened to viewpoints blaming the seminaries, the mentality of today's seminarians, and insitutional policies. It became clear that the task of the research team was not to jump into the fray but merely to gather reliable new information that would make the debates more realistic and constructive."

Here are some quotations from the book:

"In sum, the resigned priests were especially critical of their theological training in one domain, that of preparing them for the celibate life and for coping with problems of loneliness." (Pg. 15)
"The statistics are clear. The number of priests is decreasing at between 10 and 20 percent per decade and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future. At the same time the Church is experiencing a reduction in the number of priests, the number of Catholics is increasing at about 10 percent per decade." (Pg. 150)
"Two things will facilitate the movement of the Spirit. First, those in leadership of seminaries, dioceses, and congregations must create a climate that is conducive to fostering personal growth. Second, the newly ordained must respond to the promptings of the Spirit and be humble enough to see their need for growth. If these two things occur, we are likely to see another generation of effective pastoral, collaborative priests." (Pg. 154)
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