The Most Reverend Donald W. Trautman, Bishop Emeritus of Erie, PA, presiding at Mass during the 2013 Assembly in Seattle
Who We Are
We are concerned and dedicated priests in good standing with our bishops and/or religious communities and so in communion with the Bishop of Rome. We are priests mindful of our Catholic Tradition and traditions, committed to mutual support, and speaking with a collegial and hopeful voice. The values which characterize us include the Gospel, Catholic Tradition, Vatican II and its Vision; contemplation, conscience, consensus, celebration; faithfulness & fraternity, humility & hope, participation & prophecy, respect, mercy, and servant-leadership ministry through preaching, teaching and pastoring. Our Association’s Vision and Mission is stated on the HOME page of this site.
The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests was founded by twenty-seven priests hailing from 15 (arch)diocese(s) and 11 states at St. Mary’s Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois in 2011. Together, they founded AUSCP because they saw a crucial need for a national forum for the nation’s priests. The Association is based on individual membership where every priest has a vote. Since that historic gathering, the Association has held three national Assemblies, gathering hundreds of priests from across the country and has grown to more than 1000 members. The priests who gathered for our 2014 Assembly in St. Louis represented 8500 years of pastoral service to God's People.
The Second Vatican Council renewed and reformed the church, charging it to be a church in the world, dialoging with it. The Council encouraged all members of the church to participate fully in its life and mission. The fathers of that great Council encouraged all to embrace the world and see it not as an enemy, but as God’s work and the vineyard of Jesus Christ.
Why We Are
In recent years, there has been a dramatic decline in the number of priests while the catholic population has risen sharply. This has created a critical shortage of priests. In 1978 there were over 58-thousand priests and about 50-million Catholics in the United States. In 2004, there were about 43-thousand priests and over 64-million Catholics. That trend has continued. Today there are 76.7 million Catholics with only 38,275 diocesan and religious priests, many of them elderly and toward the end of their ministering lives. (CARA statistics). TheArchbishop John R. Quinn receives AUSCP's St. John XXIII Award from Board Chair Dave Cooper during the 2014 St. Louis Assembly
escalating number of laypeople per priest, the declining number of priests per parish, and the increasing number of resident “priestless parishes” (3496 in 2014) is, at its core, why the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests came into existence.
As a result of Vatican Council II, bishops around the world organized into National Conferences. Pertinent issues, the work of committees and subcommittees, and matters of national or pastoral concern are presented and debated during their national bishop meetings. The bishops are united with one another and able to speak with one voice. But, there was no single national organization that brings priests together simply because they are priests to enable them to join in dialogue about issues pertaining to their unique ministry and service to God’s People, and to give them voice.
The Association of US Catholic Priests aims to be that kind of organization -- an association of priests, by priests and for priests, that enables them to speak with one voice. Many priests live in isolation, weeks or months passing before they can interact with another priest. AUSCP seeks to open and promote dialogue designed to benefit and serve the life that is demanded of priests today.
AUSCP helps assure that no priest stands alone. Together, we offer a forum in which all priests can engage together in prayerful, joyful, hopeful and healing dialogue.