Nuns and brothers who took their perpetual vows in 2012 are mature adults with work experience who come from Catholic families.
That’s the basic result of a survey conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.
The survey shows that today’s newly professed religious are well-educated, individuals who have had to overcome discouragement from others in seeking a vocation to religious life.
One thing that interested me is that age appears to be no impediment for many of these people, since the oldest woman was 66 at the time she professed her perpetual vows and two of the men were over 60. I had always heard that no one who was over 40 could enter religious life. It appears I was wrong.
I think this is great news for people who have come to know Jesus later in life and who feel the call to live out their days as vowed members of a religious community. It is particularly important for women.
In a world where the enslavement and trafficking of women and children is growing apace with rape as an instrument of war and the use of child soldiers, the voice of strong Christian women is badly needed.
The Church needs nuns.
There is a female viewpoint that must be present when dealing with crimes against women and children. Also, many times, women are the only ones who can gain the trust and cooperation of severely victimized people.
Here are a few facts from the survey that stood out to me. You can read the entire survey here.
The average age of newly professed women is 40, while the average of men is 39. Eighty-give percent of the respondents are cradle Catholics. Seventy-eight percent come from families in which both parents are Catholic. Ninety-six percent of them have at least one brother or sister; 45% have four or more siblings.
This is a highly educated group of people. Twenty-two percent have a graduate level degree with 60% having a bachelor’s degree. Eight-two percent of them had worked before entering religious life. Eighty-eight percent had participated in ministry activities before entering and 95% had regularly participated in private prayer activity. Sixty-nine percent had participated in Eucharistic Adoration.
Seventy-four percent of the respondents said that they were discouraged from entering religious life by one of more persons. Women were more likely than men to report that they had encountered discouragement about considering a vocation. Men were more likely than the women to be encouraged by their parish priests to think of religious life as a life’s vocation.
The youngest sister or nun was 23 at the time of her profession, while the oldest was 66 years of age. Eight women professed perpetual vows at age 60 or older. The youngest brother was 25 and the oldest is 62. Two of the men are age 60 or older.