Sunday, August 23, 2009

NRVC Research - A Brief Analysis

The recent publication of the survey for the National Religious Vocations Conference in the USA (see previous post) has attracted much attention in the United States and also in this part of the world. The study and survey has confirmed what many are realising and can verify - namely that those following a religious vocation are becoming more traditional - in the positive sense of the word. The survey suggests that two-thirds of the new religious (male and female) chose orders who have maintained their unique identities, have chosen to wear their religious habit and who follow a traditional communal prayer life. This along with fidelity to the Church and its teaching are cited as very important.

In contrast, the survey also finds that those religious orders who have opted not to wear their religious habits, who have abandonded their monasteries, priories and convents and in some cases have diluted their charisms and become akin to social workers are those congregations and orders that are not attracting vocations.

Evidently, more religious vocations are needed. In Ireland there are vast differences in vocation numbers between dioceses (rural and urban). Also, while the number of men following religious vocations may be increasing, the number of young women is not showing the same upward trend. These issues need to be addressed.

In Ireland, the generation of religious that is absent coupled with the generation of Catholics who do not practise their faith in any meaningful way are being replaced by a newer and, it could be argued, more committed generation. It is of the highest importance that this new generation of religious and young Catholics are not stymied by a generation that is older and has lost its way. It is also unhelpful to classify, as many do, these young people as conservative or traditional. It is evident that Catholics can not be either strictly liberal or ultra conservative but rather that Catholics must reconcile both by respecting and handing on tradition but also seeing what is needed today. Religious orders and, by extension, the Church itself must not neglect the needs of today or ignore the value of tradition - otherwise it will fail in attracting men and women who have an earnest desire to preach the Gospel for our time.

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