Catholic Vocations and Millennials
The world and our society are increasingly secular. As such, vocations to the Catholic priesthood and religious life (i.e. religious Brothers and Sisters) are increasingly counterculture. But there is renewed hope for the Catholic church as more young people are considering a vocation as a Catholic priest, Brother or Sister. Millenials are choosing religious life, despite what you may think. In a recent Huffington Post article, author Eve Fairbanks reported that the number of young women “discerning the religious life” has risen in the last few years.
Just ten years ago, there were fewer than 50,000 Catholic sisters in America, with the majority over the age of 90 and very few under 60. This number is significantly lower than the 180,000 Catholic sisters in 1965. However, the number now is on the rise. In a 2017 Georgetown University survey, 13% of women between the ages of 18 and 35 would seriously consider becoming a Catholic nun. Additionally, the average age of women taking their vow a decade ago was 40; now it is 24.
Women today beginning the discernment process aren’t any different than many millennial women. They attend college, play sports, have boyfriends and busy social lives. However, they all have something in common, and that is the desire to serve God and answer His call. One of the women profiled in the Huffington Post article heard His plan for her in her college chapel when He told her His plan for her is to “evangelize”.
Of the three women profiled by HuffPo, one young woman named Tori is still on the path to becoming a Catholic nun. Her desire to start this process came from her need to help people and live a life devoted to God. In the article, she was quoted as saying,
“I’m so excited. I long for it so badly. I want nothing more than to get rid of everything.”
Tori is currently hiking through the Appalachian Trail to further strengthen her relationship with God and to find her truth with herself, nature and God. She is not abandoning her plan, but taking steps to understand how she will answer God’s call, and take the necessary time to make her decision.
Similar to the many young women becoming Catholic nuns, the number of men entering the priesthood is also on the rise. At Theological College in Washington, D.C., the majority of seminarians are in their mid- to late 20’s, as opposed to in their 30’s as would be the norm in years past, as reported in this NPR article. This article further shows that the number of 25-29 year olds studying to become a priest has grown 36% since 2000.
The Norbertine Order, which is one of the oldest Catholic religious communities in the world, continues to be a vital presence in the world. Norbertine life is organized around the concept of Communio which translates into the idea of living and working together as one. For the Norbertines, public ministry varries and includes school work, parish ministry, etc. A consistent theme in the Norbertine life is a call to bring peace and reconciliation to the church and to society at large.
Young people may find in today’s world may find it difficult to defend their choice in entering religious life. Fifty years ago, it seemed like a viable option of a young Catholic to make the same decision. In an increasingly secular world, Americans are often looking for someone or something to follow, from different trends and celebrities, and ultimately finding unhappiness in this way of life. For those sure of their decision to enter religious life, finding purpose, happiness and love in God will never leave them unsatisfied.
If you feel called to a life of prayer and if you are seeking a way to answer God’s call, contact Abbot Domenic Rossi at firstname.lastname@example.org.