That, according to sisters who took vows last year.
If she had listened to her parents, Sister Jenn Graus might never have professed vows last month to join the Congregation of St. Joseph.
Though lifelong Catholics, Graus’ parents had met few nuns or sisters near their home in Sterling Heights, Mich., and assumed most were cloistered in remote convents.
They were uneasy when Graus, 27, told them about her religious calling. Would they ever see her again? Would the college education they scrimped and saved for go to waste?
“They had to overcome a lot of apprehension,” Graus said. Gradually, her parents warmed to her vocational aspirations after Graus told them that, yes, she would be allowed to visit home, and no, she would not have to give up her teaching career.
Communities of nuns and sisters in the U.S. are weathering a season of demographic decline with far-reaching consequences for the country’s vast network of Catholic schools, hospitals and social services.
But as Catholic leaders try to convince more young women like Graus to dedicate their lives to the church, recent surveys suggest that a big obstacle may lie surprisingly close to home.
More than half of the women who professed final vows to join a religious order in 2010 said a parent or family member had discouraged their religious calling, according to a survey conducted by Georgetown University‘s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.
Only 26% of the surveyed sisters said their mother encouraged them to consider religious life, and just 16% said their father cheered their choice, according to the report, which was released by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Feb. 2.