Thursday, 03 March 2011 10:44
WASHINGTON—Women entering religious orders today are highly educated and experienced in numerous church activities, according to a national survey.
The survey report The Profession Class of 2010: Survey of Women Religious Professing Perpetual Vows was released February 2, the Church’s World Day for Consecrated Life. It was conducted by the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) and commissioned by the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. The survey was sent to sisters represented by the two conferences of religious women, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, as well as contemplative communities. Respondents represented 52 religious orders. A total of 68 out of 79 sisters contacted completed the survey.
Major findings note:
• In general, women religious of the Class of 2010 are more diverse than previously perpetually professed women religious in terms of racial and ethnic identity. Six in ten identify as white, one in five identifies as Asian, and one in ten identifies as Hispanic/Latina.
• Nearly nine in ten sisters and nuns were born Catholic and eight in ten came from families in which both parents are Catholic.
• Half of responding women religious (51 percent) attended a Catholic elementary school. Women religious are about as likely as other U.S. Catholics to have attended a Catholic high school and much more likely to have attended a Catholic college.
• The responding women religious are highly educated. A quarter earned a graduate degree before entering their religious institute. Six in ten entered their religious institute with at least a bachelor’s degree or more.
• Many women religious were active in parish life before entering their religious institute. Four in ten participated in a youth group and three in ten participated in a young adult group. Eighty-five percent had ministry experience before entering their religious institute, most commonly in liturgical ministry, faith formation, or social service ministry.
• Three-quarters of responding sisters and nuns regularly participated in retreats before they entered their religious institute. Two-thirds regularly prayed the Rosary and/or participated in Eucharistic Adoration. Six in ten regularly participated in a faith sharing or Bible study group and/or in regular spiritual direction.
• Nine in ten women religious (87 percent) say they were encouraged to consider religious life by someone in their life.