Wednesday, September 28, 2011

THE FUTURE OF RELIGIOUS SISTERS IS STRONG OR IS IT?


Sr. Sandra Schneiders speaks St. Mary’s College in Indiana Sept. 24. You can read the National Catholic Reporter's story on it by pressing these sentences.

I have no problem with aging people, whether they are sisters, brothers, priests or parents. I have a 92 year old mother!

But I do sense that many aging religious sisters and brothers are in a grand state of denial about what has happened in the last 45 years and that in another 20 years or even less, most of their communities will be dead.

The only ones really thriving are the more visibly conservative ones, who still wear a habit, even modified, and live in community rather than as bachelors and have a specified ministry or two, like teaching, medical care or assisting the poor in a variety of ways.

I hope the aging sisters have a happy, active retirement and a blessed death.

In Macon, the Sisters of Mercy founded Mt. de Sales Academy as well as St. Joseph School. In the 1960's there were upwards of 40 sisters of Mercy living in Macon in community staffing both schools. Today there are no sisters in either school and only two retired Sisters of Mercy who live independently of one another. Both though are active in their retirement. May God bless them with more years and good health.

I pray that religious life re-blossoms through communities that are vibrant and strong, such as the Dominican Sisters of Nashville, the Poor Clares of Birmingham and the worldwide Daughters of Charity. It's in communities like these attracting the young where the future of religious life will either be reborn or have its last hurray.

14 comments:

Paul said...

Father,

Much of vocation involves taking the "rainbows and unicorns" that marketing departments deal in and restating those goals in business terms and finally translating that to software code. Reading the sister's speech, I could not help but feel I was being transported to one of those meetings.

My professional opinion is, she is in a serious, deep, state of denial, compounded with an excess of corporate double-talk.

Paul

Frajm said...

I do agree that Catholic families are smaller and women have more choices in life today. But marriage was always a big choice and numerous women in yesteryear chose to forgo it for religious life that was appealing to them on the level of many different senses. It is not so today. I see many young women committed to the Church today and serving the Church who if we had strong religious orders available to them that they would more than likely choose this way of life. As it is there is nothing that appeals to them with what we once had.
Also, religious life did seem to take on a more worldly approach to their life thinking this would get women who wanted the corporate world. Women who want religious life want a viable alternative to the corporate world not some religious clone of it.

pinanv525 said...

Imagine...all that and she did not really say anything...

Anonymous said...

Perhaps we should start a retirement fund called the Mount Nebo foundation.

rcg

romishgraffiti said...

I could not help but feel I was being transported to one of those meetings.

I felt like I was watching This is Spinal Tap when the band manager is asked if he thought the band's popularity was waning: http://youtu.be/4Vb2Yf9qDco

Frajm said...

That's an interesting video and captures my sentiments exactly in terms of being in denial and putting the best face on a bad situation.

Sr Elizabeth said...

I can't let thisone go without a comment. I keep with me two quotes from St Vincent de Paul, the founder of the Daughters of Charity:
1: Let us let God act wtihout dwelling on our too human fears or excusing ourselves for our limitations and our inadequacies" I believe when we live in the spirit of our Founders and not use aging members or low numbers or other reasons as blinders then we will be attractive to women who are seeking truth in advertising.
My community has been blessed in the past 10 years or so with young, vibrant vocations. Prior to that we were attracting older vocations...of which I am one. We have 12 or so new members most of whom are under 30. They give me hope. I must add that most of them have decided to wear our veil...as we have the choice. They have inspired me and continue to challenge me.

2: "Your's is a spirit of charity which obliges you to wear yourselves out in the service of your neighbor" I want to encourage, and I hope my sisters and I are good examples of hard work. St Vincent called us to work with the sweat of our brow and the strength of our arms. When we are better taken care of than those we serve, it is scandalous. This does not always mean that we out of touch or disconnected. As those who know we will attest I have what I need to do what needs getting done. But, I do not see these tools as "mine", but rather the tools of the ministry. I must also be willing to work without if necessary.
I hope that women coming to religious life today are coming to work to build the kingdom and find Christ in the Church and people they are called to serve. I don't handle "lazy" very well. There is too much to do!
Sr Grace, who works with our Hispanic community reminds me often that along with giving up personal possessions, a spouse and intimacy, and autonomy; we also give up retirement! She is 78 and works circles aound the rest of us.
So even if there are only a few Daughters of Charity, I would hope we would work to exhaustion in the service of the poor as our Founders inspired us and our God instructed us.
I hope this is the reason we have always had at least a few women in formation and why we continue to attract women to our community...there is truth in advertsiing: We are women who pray, live and love everyday, all day with zeal and joy!

Templar said...

Here is a link to a webpage of an Order of Benedictine Sisters that I support. I consider these types of Traditional Orders the future of the Church. And if you care to hear what must surely be what the Choirs of Angels in Heaven sound like, order one of their CDs.

http://benedictinesofmary.org/

I consider the destruction of the Female religous Orders to be in fact more damaging to the Church than even the damage wrought by the Liturgical abuses and Modernist Clergy. The loss of the Sisters has had a Massive impact on Catholic eduction, and let's face it, look at the ignorance of your average pew sitter today regarding their own faith. It's criminal.

R. León said...

It seems like consecrated religious are mythical beings in the Diocese of Savannah. So far in the about 6 years that I have been regularly atending Mass, I've seen one Sister in a white/blue habit that used to frequent mass. There was one sister in a modified habit that came to visit, one Passionist Father that visited and one Sister that was either a fully habited Francican(possibly Poor Clare) or Carmelite.

R. León said...

Oh, I forgot about the Sisters of Mercy, I'm sure I've seen some here, but it's hard to distinguish them from the other ladies in the parish.

Marc said...

Thank you for posting, Sister. The part that stands out to me most is this: "We have 12 or so new members most of whom are under 30. They give me hope. I must add that most of them have decided to wear our veil."

I think that the outward signs of the religious life and the priesthood are very important to young people. People who have this calling want to take that definitive step, they want to be "different" in their vocation. I think people in my generation (I'm 28) and younger want to make that dramatic committment to their faith - they don't want to live a religious or priestly vocation as if they were simply "more serious" lay people. They want the tradition and the distinction.

I'm glad to hear the Daughters of Charity recognize the need for a return to these outward manifestations of the religious life - I'm sure they (the outward signs) seemed trite in the recent past, but they are very important for vocations and for the living of the religious life. Or, that's how it seems to me, anyway.

How would one discern a religious vocation if they never encountered a religious - or if they couldn't spot a religious in a crowd?!?

pinanv525 said...

Carmelites are cloistered, aren't they?

pinanv525 said...

I did a little research on this Schneiders woman...a complete four alarm head case, rabble rouser, unbelieving NT scholar, and typical product of our feminist dominated, liberal infested society. God help us...

Templar said...

Carmelites of the First Order (Friars) are active (but contemplative), as are those of the Third Order (Lay), only the Second Order (Nuns/Monks) are Cloistered.