As the Catholic Church prepares to celebrate the World Day for Consecrated Life, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV) is releasing the results of a survey taken of the most recent Profession Class of 2017 conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). The survey results have been released to coincide with the annual celebration of World Day for Consecrated Life, which will be celebrated in the Church on Friday, February 2, 2018 and in parishes on the weekend of February 3-4, 2018.
Commenting on the World Day for Consecrated Life, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Newark and Chair of the USCCB’s Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations states: “For twenty-one years, the Church has designated the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Candlemas Day, as an appropriate moment to thank God for the gift of consecrated life. Jesus is manifest as ‘light of revelation for the Gentiles’ and ‘glory for God’s people, Israel.’ Consecrated men and women reflect this light as witnesses of Jesus in a world that is often shrouded in shadow. They are the glory of God’s people. We pray for the perseverance of consecrated men and women and ask God to continue enriching the Church with their unique vocation.”
The survey polled women and men religious who professed perpetual vows in 2017 in a religious congregation, province, or monastery based in the U.S. CARA received a response from 600 of 768 major superiors for an overall response rate of 78 percent among religious institutes.
Of these 216 identified women and men religious, a total of 100 sisters and nuns and 51 brothers and priests responded to the survey. These 51 men may include some brothers who intend to pursue studies leading to priestly ordination. This represents a response rate of 73 percent of the 208 potential members of the Profession Class of 2017 that were reported to CARA by major superiors.
Some of the major findings of the report are:
- Nearly nine in ten or 86 percent of responding religious regularly participated in some type of private prayer activity before they entered their religious institute. About two-thirds participated in Eucharistic Adoration, prayed the rosary, or attended retreats before entering. Nearly six in ten participated in spiritual direction before entering.
- Most religious did not report that educational debt delayed their application for entrance to their institute. Among the 4 percent who did report having educational debt, however, they averaged about 4 years of delay while they paid down an average of $29,100 in educational debt.
- The average age of responding religious is 41. Half of the responding religious are age 36 or younger. The youngest is 24 and the oldest is 86.
- Two-thirds of responding religious (64 percent) identify as white, more than one in six (18 percent) identifies as Asian, and more than one in ten (11 percent) identifies as Hispanic.
- Most responding religious (67 percent) were born in the U.S. Of those born outside the United States, the most common country of origin is Vietnam.
- Among those identifying as Hispanic/Latino almost six in ten (62 percent) are foreign born. Those identifying as Asian/Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian seven in ten are predominantly foreign born. Nearly all identifying as Caucasian/White (94 percent) are U.S. born.
- One-half of responding religious attended a Catholic elementary school, more than four in ten (44 percent) attended a Catholic high school, and a near equal proportion (43 percent) attended a Catholic college before entering their religious institute.
- On average, responding religious report that they were 19 years old when they first considered a vocation to religious life, but half were 18 or younger when they first did so.
- Nearly nine in ten (87 percent) responding religious report that someone encouraged them to consider a vocation to religious life.
- Over four in ten reports that a parish priest (43 percent) encouraged their vocation.
- Half say they were encouraged to consider a vocation by a religious sister or brother. Women religious were more likely than men religious to do so.
- Over four in ten (41 percent) report that they were encouraged to consider a vocation by their friends.
The entire survey and press release, General Intercessions and a bulletin quote for the World Day for Consecrated Life, as well as more information on the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations can be found at www.usccb.org/consecratedlife.