What do religious life and political campaigns have in common? The answer - negative ads! I am sure you've heard some of the negative claims about religious life. The ones that say things like, "religious life in the church is dying out." Another idea you may have heard states that the "younger generation no longer sees a religious vocation as a viable option in life." One of the more widespread claims asserts that only certain religious communities are attracting vocations. These types of comments are not coming from the large majority of prophetic women who already live as vowed religious and share God's love in many different ways. Nor do these kind of statements reflect the attitude of the newer members present in our religious communities. In fact, a recent vocation study sponsored by the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC), known as the CARA Study, indicate that newer members have a great sense of hope in the future of religious life.
The statistical data from this study was presented in the seminar, "Moving Forward in Hope: Keys to the Future." The study confirms a hope filled outlook for the next generation of religious vocations. It was an exciting opportunity for me to participate with other vocation ministers and religious community leaders in the "Keys to the Future" program. The 89 participants came from all the diverse expressions of religious life found in the church today. We came together with the common purpose of doing our part to ensure that religious life continues to be a viable option for future generations.
Part of safeguarding the future of religious life involves developing an understanding of the millennial generation. The processing tool that came out of the "Keys to the Future" program helps congregation members to deal with such questions as, "What is important to young people today as they consider a religious vocation? How do they figure out what communities to consider? What are the general and cultural backgrounds of young people considering religious life in the 21st century?" The insights from newer members in this study provide important information for religious communities and vocation ministry.
What is the future of religious life in the 21st century? Exciting! Is God still calling young people to consider a religious vocation? Absolutely! Could God be inviting you to consider becoming a Sister? Possibly! If you think God may be calling you to consider religious life, it's not too late to check out our Labor Day Come and See Retreat in Akron, Ohio, beginning Friday, August 31 - Monday, September 3. You may call or text Sr. Pat Dual at 614.216.7688. The future of religious life in the church is bright…does it include you?