The Catholic University of America

Aug. 1, 2011

October Symposium to Explore Groundbreaking Study on the Lives of Priests

  Monsignor Stephen J. Rossetti's book

On Oct. 5, The Catholic University of America will host the Symposium on the Priesthood, which will explore a comprehensive, groundbreaking study by a Catholic University professor showing that priests enjoy an extraordinarily high rate of happiness and satisfaction, among the highest of any profession.

Monsignor Stephen J. Rossetti, CUA associate clinical professor of theology and religious studies and associate dean for seminary and ministerial programs, will discuss his study as one of the symposium speakers. His new book, “Why Priests Are Happy: A Study of the Psychological and Spiritual Health of Priests,” will be released by Ave Maria Press the day of the event, which will be held in the Great Room of the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center.

The symposium will also feature talks by Most Rev. Wilton D. Gregory, archbishop of Atlanta; Monsignor Robert Panke, rector of the Archdiocese of Washington’s new Blessed John Paul II Seminary and president of the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors; and Joseph White, CUA associate professor of American Catholic Church history.

Rev. Mark Morozowich, acting dean of Catholic University’s School of Theology and Religious Studies, describes the study as “a groundbreaking, thoroughly researched look at the priesthood.” He notes that Monsignor Rossetti’s research includes extensive sociological data gathered using more rigorous standards than those of past studies.

“This study shows that the majority of priests are happy and well-adjusted people who are living a life of giving,” says Father Morozowich. “Monsignor Rossetti’s research helps to present a broader picture of the priesthood when often all we hear about is the small percentage of priests who have caused problems.”

This fall, Catholic University expects to enroll about 130 seminarians in its School of Philosophy, and its School of Theology and Religious Studies. Father Morozowich notes that Monsignor Rossetti’s research “will inform” the training of seminarians.

“The research also reflects the issues that priests want to have addressed in their own lives,” he adds. “It provides us with a wonderful opportunity to link real-life experience with what we’re doing to prepare young men for the priesthood.”

The study, which Monsignor Rossetti started in 2003, is based on his 20-year ministry working with priests. The author is the former president and CEO of Saint Luke’s Institute in Silver Spring, Md., which provides counseling services for clergy and women religious.

The study shows that:

  • 92 percent of priests surveyed report being happy in their ministry.
  • The large majority of priests reported personally experiencing celibacy in a positive way.
  • As a priest’s time in private prayer increased, he was less emotionally exhausted, less depressed, less lonely, less likely to be obese, better able to deal with stress, had an increased sense of inner peace, and reported being happier as a priest.
  • Priests, by and large, are not lonely. They live in an intimate communion of relationships with other priests and laity. Nor are their lives unhealthy; they are much less burned out, more satisfied, and less psychologically impaired than their lay counterparts.

The symposium will open with prayers at 9 a.m. led by Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, archbishop of Washington and CUA chancellor, and Theological College seminarians. Catholic University President John Garvey will welcome symposium participants at 9:30 a.m.

The symposium is co-sponsored by the Associated Sulpicians of the United States; Saint Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Md.; CUA’s School of Theology and Religious Studies; and Theological College. It will take place in conjunction with Theological College’s Alumni Days, which will be held Oct. 4 and 5.

For more information or to register, visit or call 202-319-5683. Complete information about the day’s events, including the titles of the speakers’ talks, is available on the symposium website.

MEDIA: For more information, contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600. 


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