Myth #1: No one is entering
religious life anymore.
FACT: Since 2009, approximately 70
percent of religious communities have
had at least one person in formation,
that is, preparing for membership.
Nearly 20 percent have two or more
people in some stage of formation, that
is, preparation for full membership.
Today’s numbers are different
from the large numbers that entered
religious life in the 1950s and ’60s,
although many people have used this
period as a point for comparison.
Historically, the smaller number of
entrants seen today is more normal for religious communities. In
recent years more than 200 men and
women a year have taken final vows
to join dozens of different communities. Even more begin the formal
application process, with some 400-
500 U.S. men and women each year
beginning the entrance process, a
period of serious discernment.
Myth #2: Most new members
are older or second-career
FACT: The average age for enter-
ing a religious community is 30,
and almost half are under age 25.
The data also show that the aver-
age age for making final vows is 39.
Although there always has been, and
always will be a place for older or
second-career candidates in religious
life, multiple studies confirm that an
increasing number of younger people
are looking at religious life as a possible life option. The average age for
discerning religious life is 19, and
about half are under 18 when they
first consider it.
Myth #3: Conservative or
traditional communities are the
only communities attracting new
FACT: Religious institutes that have a
focused mission, who live in community, who have regular prayer
and sacramental life, and who wear
a habit show a higher proportion
of newer members. Not all of those
characteristics are restricted to
communities typically identified as
“traditional.” The 2009 study indi-
THE FINAL VOWS ceremony
for Sister Kimberly Kessler,
C. S.R. (center) evokes
smiles all around, including
from Father Timothy Judge
and Sister Anne Marie Haas,
C. S.R., province leader for
the Sisters of the Redeemer.
SARAH WEBB. COUR TES Y OF CATHOLICPHILLY.COM
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