I recently picked up a hard copy of Fr Micheal MacGreil's The Challenge of Indifference : A Need for Religious Revival in Ireland. It is a comprehensive survey of religious attitudes and practices in Ireland. It is published by the Survey and Research Unit, Department of Sociology at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, County Kildare.
The chapter on 'Attitudes towards Vocations' obviously caught my attention. The data and statistics contained in the chapter are concerned primarily with the response of Roman Catholics to the question :'If you had a son or a daughter and he/she came to you and said he/she had decided to become a priest/nun, how would you respond?' The findings to this question are interesting. 64.1% would greatly welcome or welcome with reservation their son to become a priest (the corresponding figure in 1988/9 was 79%), while 60.9% would greatly welcome or welcome with reservation their daughter to become a nun/religious sister (the corresponding figure in 1988/9 was 75%).
While in both cases there is a significant nominal drop (15%) the statistic can be seen in a positive light in that alomost two thirds of Roman Catholics in Ireland would welcome the news of their son's or daughter's decision to respond positively to his or her vocation to become a priest or nun. The statistic is also to be seen in the context of recent negative stereotyping of priests and nuns in some of the popular media and in the decline of frequency of religious practice in Ireland.
There is a wealth of information available in this survey which really ought to be chewed over by vocations directors of dioceses and religious congregations and orders. The substantial survey is available in Catholic bookshops now priced at around €15.