Cardinal Theodore McCarrick ordained the Archdiocese of Washington's largest class of priests since 1973 and the second largest in the nation this year.
The cardinal ordained the 12 men Saturday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The ordinations will also mark the cardinal’s last major act as the bishop of Washington as he heads to retirement, reported the Washington Times.
The new priests come from a variety of vocational backgrounds, including careers as physicist, computer engineer, stockbroker, sales manager, scuba diver and Air Force parachutist. The group includes natives of Spain, Cuba, Britain and Hungary.
The cardinal credited the diocese's location for attracting a large and diverse class of new priests.
"Because Washington is such a magnet, almost half of our seminarians come from other parts of the United States or even from abroad."
The backgrounds of the new priests will prove valuable in their work with 150 diverse parishes in the archdiocese.
Fr. David M. O'Connell, president of Catholic University, said the new priests are sensitive to the public skepticism facing priests given the recent sex-abuse scandal.
"If anything, the revelation of recent scandals has made seminarians firmer, more determined in their commitment and much more realistic about their lives as priests," he told the Times.
"Combined with a very strong emphasis on healthy celibate living, I believe our seminarians in the Archdiocese of Washington and elsewhere are better prepared to meet the challenges that are a part of every priest's life," he was quoted as saying.