Despite a decline in the total number of men and women entering religious life, vocations endure, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) has found that over the last 50 years, the number of priests is down 38% and the number of religious sisters is down 73%. However, creating a “culture of vocations” from baptism can help encourage men and women to enter religious life.
By creating this culture, there are three senses of vocation to recognize: a call to holiness, discussion of what are typically considered vocations (priesthood, religious or single life and marriage) and a sense of daily vocation in answering God’s call of how to serve Him every day. An active discussion of the aforementioned, as well as prayer is important from a young age to feel comfortable pursuing vocations.
Some obstacles do exist for youth and young adults. The prevalence of social media acts as a distraction. Student loan debt also holds many back from religious life because it means living a life of poverty. Sister Marianne Therese Lallone, IHM noted some millennials want to plan out the details of their future rather than take a “leap of faith.”
Organizations exist that help people with student loan debt erase that debt if they are pursuing religious life. However, social media distractions and fear of the unknown are harder to combat.
It takes building a relationship with Christ through prayer, and the ability to see what it is like to answer the call from God in living a vocation life. Attending “come and see” weekends and retreats can help clear up any hesitation because you’ll learn what you don’t know.
A symbiotic relationship has to exist to increase the numbers of people in vocations. Priests and other members of the church must be engaged with their congregation actively and youth ministry are just as necessary as the people who have been called by God to enter religious life.