The National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) has just published the 2020 Study on Recent Vocations to Religious Life. This research about the more than 3,500 women and men who entered religious life in the United States from 2003 to 2018 gives these key findings:
Endless Call: Women and men continue to respond to the call to religious life.
Appeal: They are drawn by prayer, spirituality, charism, community life, and mission.
Attributes: They are culturally diverse and embrace intercultural, inter-generational living.
Lifestyle: They are committed to living simply and in solidarity with the poor.
Outlook: They are filled with abundant hope for religious life amid changing demographics.
The report clearly shows Religious Life as alive and well. While 13% of all perpetually professed Religious in the U.S. are younger than 60 and an identical proportion are aged 90 or older, newer members have not been deterred from joining because of these circumstances. Fully aware of the concerns and challenges that their communities face, they are optimistic about the future. It said, “They hope to see their communities be bold, take risks, and work collaboratively with other communities and lay partners. They hope to gain a deeper sense of community and a clarity of mission and identity. They want their communities to embrace diversity as they honor their roots and live their charisms. All of their hopes have at their core a desire to continue the good works of prior generations while forging a new path for religious life.” Isn’t that a reason for all of us to HOPE!