Sunday, January 31, 2021



Newly-professed US religious 'young and highly-educated'

Ahead of the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life, a US-based research center details the characteristics of religious men and women who professed vows in 2020.

By Lisa Zengarini

Most religious men and women who professed their perpetual vows in 2020 are highly educated, come from a Catholic family background, and have first considered vocation at a relatively young age.

This is according to new research conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). 

The research was commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV) ahead of the annual World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life, to be marked on 2 February.

CARA received a response from 549 of 747 major superiors for an overall response rate of 73% among religious institutes. Of the 172 identified men and women religious who professed perpetual vows in 2020, 55 sisters and nuns and 57 brothers and priests responded to the survey for an overall response rate of 65%.

Young and encouraged

According to the survey, the average age of responding religious of the Profession Class of 2020 is 38. Half of them were 34 or younger. On average they were 19 years old when they first considered a vocation to religious life.  Three-quarters of the respondents come from families in which both parents are Catholic and 84% have been Catholic since birth.

Nine in ten (89%) report that someone encouraged them to consider a vocation to religious life. 45% were encouraged by their parish priest, 41% by a friend, and 40% by a religious sister or brother, while 30% say they were encouraged by their mother and only 18% by their father.


The survey also found out that Profession Class of 2020 is highly educated.

According to the findings, a quarter of the respondents earned a graduate degree before entering their religious institute. Three-fourths (75%) entered their religious institute with at least a bachelor’s degree (71% for women and 80% for men). Moreover, almost nine-tenths (85%) of responding religious report some type of work experience prior to entering their religious order.

Regarding ethnic and race background, seven out of ten identify themselves as Caucasian, European American, or white, while 13% identify as Asian/Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian, 7% as African American and 5% as Hispanic.

Three-fourths of the respondents were born in the United States. Of those born outside the US, the most common country of origin is Vietnam.

Example of Christ's love

Instituted by Pope St. John Paul II in 1997, the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life is celebrated in conjunction with the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as Candlemas Day, which commemorates through the blessing and lighting of candles that Christ is the light of the world.

So too, those in consecrated life are called to reflect the light of Jesus Christ to all peoples.

In view of this year’s recurrence, which US parishes will celebrate over the weekend of February 6-7 this year, Bishop James F. Checchio, chairman of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, has invited the faithful to renew their gratitude to Christ for the gift of consecrated life.

"By their prayers and apostolates, those in consecrated life provide for us an example of Christ’s merciful love, and especially during these uncertain and difficult times, they point us to the reality that Christ is our ultimate goal,” he said.


Anonymous said...

These statistical studies always gloss right over the initial fact that there are people who respond to surveys, and then there are people who do not respond.

This is always a very significant number, and a very good chance they do not respond is because they do NOT fit into the picture painted of age, affluency/education level, etc.. This is also why political forecasters blow it on a regular basis.

Since these invisible people are never sampled, the study conclusion is generally meaningless. For all the study authors know, this large percentage may be diametrically opposed to the study conclusions, and be old and poor. Or, they might be so divorced from anything not of God that they decline messing with such trivialities, and the holiest of the lot. The fact is, they just do not know, but that is not the impression one gets from the study or the article.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 3:08?

Are you unhappy that some intelligent people prefer a traditional order where members wear the habit instead of joining the moribund “Our Lady of the Pansuit” type of war order?

Anonymous said...

anon403, that is quite a leap to go from a statement noting weakness of statistics to some dark liberal motive for noting 35% of folk are missed in this survey.

Mark Twain remarked along the lines that there are lies, damned lies, and then there are statistics, which no doubt makes him an agent of Cupich, Gregory, Tobin and Francis.

Now stop making a fool of yourself and find a real enemy to fight rather than trying so hard to make one out of those who might be friends.

Anonymous said...

Please, read the latest posting on "Settimo Cielo" 's posting on Vatican communications. It is enough to drive you mad, throw up your hands and make you conclude that the whole world is mad. If you had any doubt about how much mischief the Prince of this world can make you must now conclude that it is a lot indeed.

Trump and Pope Francis sure made a lot of mess. (Hagen Lio?) It seems, every day each goes boldly to the periphery of human sanity where normal mortals would not dare to go. One might even argue that each greatly responsible for contributing to the babel of worldwide confusion that Twitter and FaceBook represent. Contributed? Nay! Aided and abbetted (inspired?) the crazy discourse typical of the millions of odd, one might say mindless postings flooding cyberspace. Call it a worldwide verbal psychosocial pandemic. Thankfully, Trump is gone now replaced by a Zelig-like figure. Woody Allen make a movie!

The Papacy has not turned over yet. But when it does I am not sure it will be time for celebration.

Anonymous said...

Dear Father McDonald,

Thank you for posting this. In my experience, religious communities often have a prejudice against applicants whose inclinations would be more towards the manual trades, even if such candidates would have been welcomed in the past. The sort of young man or woman who might do well as an electrician or seamstress, for example, but not well in college, is ruled out of most religious communities today. Therefore, the well-educated are disproportionately represented in these communities, as they become increasingly elite.

In Christ,

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Dialogue, I don’t know the inner workings of religious orders today and who they select. Certainly, though, prior to Vatican II there were orders for “blue collared” workers mixed in with those with a more academic calling. This was in the days of “classes” of people which today is denigrated and not allowed.
For example when I was in the seminary in the late 70’s for decades there was an order of nuns who cooked and prayed for the seminarians and priests and also did the faculty’s laundry. That was their calling, to be servants (aren’t all in the church called to do so?) Yet, they left my seminary in the 90’s I think, because this type of service to men was seen to be beneath the dignity of nuns who are equals with seminarians and priests.

There is still a class system today, but we don’t acknowledge it. But religious orders have a prejudice against those who serve as housekeepers, lawn workers, cooks and take care of those who are “better educated.” And what is so strange is that academics are the most clerical sorts of people be that ordained or not—they think they are above everyone else.


Anonymous said...

My Aunt was a religious superior in an order that ran Hospitals, Universities and parish and diocesan schools. She was very diplomatic but a colleague of hers would refer to the lesser educated nuns as "drones." And this woman would proudly tell you she was a liberal.