The CARA Study and Vocations | Ann Carey | Catholic World Report
It finds that most new ones go to orders that observe a traditional religious life. Here is a look at some of those orders.
A new study of recent vocations to religious life in the United States has found that most new vocations are going to orders that practice more traditional forms of religious life. Some have expressed surprise at this, because orders that have discarded many of those traditions sometimes claim that way of life does not appeal to the young. Other people, however, have noticed this trend toward traditional religious life for 20 years, and now there is empirical data to prove it.
The study, “Recent Vocations to Religious Life: A Report for the National Religious Vocation Conference,” was conducted by the well-respected Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University and published in August 2009. The study concluded:
The most successful institutes in terms of attracting and retaining new members at this time are those that follow a more traditional style of religious life in which members live together in community and participate in daily Eucharist, pray the Divine Office, and engage in devotional practices together. They also wear a religious habit, work together in common apostolates, and are explicit about their fidelity to the Church and the teachings of the Magisterium. All of these characteristics are especially attractive to the young people who are entering religious life today.The study found several “best practices” for recruiting new members: involving membership and leadership in concerted vocation promotion efforts, having a full-time vocation director, using new media like the Internet, offering discernment or “come-and-see” opportunities for potential members, and exposing young people to the idea of religious life from grade school through young adulthood.
While these practices are important, the most crucial finding of the study relative to vocation recruitment is that “the example of members and the characteristics of the institute…have the most influence on the decision to enter a particular institute.”
So, what are these religious orders that are attracting new vocations? CWR talked to representatives of some of these orders in order to put a human face on the findings of the CARA report.