2020 Study on Recent Vocations to Religious Life

2020 Study on Recent Vocations to Religious Life

2020 Study on Recent Vocations

GHR Foundation awards NRVC grant for follow-up vocation study


The NRVC National Office is currently working with CARA in reviewing a draft of the 2020 Study on Recent Vocations. Scheduled release is Spring 2020.

GHR Foundation awards NRVC grant for 2020 vocation study

The National Religious Vocation Conference announced November 8, 2018 that, thanks to a generous grant from the GHR Foundation, it will conduct a follow-up study to its groundbreaking 2009 Study on Recent Vocations to Religious Life, which set the benchmark for tracking vocation trends in the 21st century.

The primary objective of this new study, to be published in early 2020, is to provide an accurate picture of the current realities of religious life, outline updated best practices in inviting men and women to religious life, and project the potential impact of today’s trends on the future of religious life and on Catholic social services and ministries managed, directed, and sponsored by religious institutes.

With support and input from sociologists and collaborating organizations, NRVC is confident that the 2020 study will expand the body of knowledge on religious life, not only for the sake of consistent social science but for the purpose of providing NRVC members and all those who promote vocations with clarity on the demographics and characteristics of newer entrants to religious life, what attracts and sustains membership in religious life, and changing and emerging trends.

NRVC is grateful for the support of the GHR Foundation and the expertise of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), which will conduct the study on NRVC’s behalf. The study research is expected to begin in early 2019 with the final report to be published on February 2, 2020, World Day for Consecrated Life. The NRVC board and staff strongly encourage all NRVC members to participate.

The goals of the 2020 study are:

• To gather data on newer members from 2003 to 2018 on what attracts and sustains membership in religious life in comparison to newer entrants from 1994-2009 in the 2009 NRVC/CARA study.

• To outline the challenges and opportunities for vocation ministers and religious leadership in inviting the next generation to religious life.

• To identify the trends and best practices for the Church in promoting vocations to religious life in the United States as identified by this study.

• To energize the baptismal call of all members of the Catholic Church to choose a life path that enables them to live holy and joyful lives by integrating the best practices of vocational discernment that will be highlighted in the study.

Like the 2009 study, the 2020 study will provide data-backed information about religious life, dispel myths and misconceptions, and offer a roadmap for religious institutes and the wider church on how to successfully invite young people to consider religious life, assist parishes and schools in promoting religious vocations, and enable religious institutes to continue to welcome new members and plan for the future. For more information, email Sr. Deborah Borneman, SS.C.M. at debbiesscm@nrvc.net.

Survey of Newer Members, Religious Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life

Focus groups gathering in August

The mission of National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) is to serve as a catalyst for vocation discernment and the full flourishing of religious life for the ongoing transformation of the world. With the support of the GHR Foundation and the expertise of the Center for the Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), we are asking for your assistance to engage in research about recent trends in newer vocations to religious life.  

Why we need this survey

We already recognize the consistent uptick in perpetual professions from a variety of religious institutes. With your support, NRVC is confident this study will expand the body of knowledge on religious life, not only for the sake of consistent social science but for the purpose of providing clarity on the changing trends of the demographics and characteristics of newer entrants to religious life.

Every religious superior and newer members who entered between 2003 - 2018 were sent a survey to complete in the spring of 2019.

The survey focuses on the characteristics of your institute or society, the lifestyle of your members, and the characteristics of your vocation and formation programs, including the number of those who have entered and professed and/or left within the past fifteen years.

What to do if you have misplaced your survey

Please contact Sister Thu T. Do, LHC, CARA Research Associate via email at ttd9@georgetown.edu or phone at 202.687.1290.  She will issue you a new survey right away with the coding needed to keep your survey confidential.

The links below are for review only. Please do NOT send these surveys to CARA. 

Survey of Religious Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life

Survey of New Members entering in 2003 - 2018 

Spanish Translation of the New Members Survey

NRVC collaborators show support for 2020 study

Representatives gathered at a convening in Buffalo prior to the start of the NRVC Convocation

Representatives of nine national organizations recently gave input on the forthcoming NRVC study of new vocations. Left to right are: Sister Annmarie Sanders, I.H.M. with LCWR; Sister Mary Bendyna, O.P. with CMSWR; Sister Elizabeth Ann Guerrero, M.C.D.P. with Mexican American Catholic College; Sister Ellen Dauwer, S.C. with Religious Formation Conference; Sister Maxine Kollasch, I.H.M. with A Nun's Life Ministry; Sister Deborah Borneman, SS.C.M. with NRVC; Stephanie Hall with Communicators for Women Religious; Sister Jessie Beck, P.B.V.M. with Giving Voice; Father Thomas Gaunt, S.J. with CARA; Father John Pavlik, O.F.M. Cap. with CMSM; Brother Bill Boslett, O.S.F. with Religious Brothers Conference; and Sister Maria Hughes, A.S.C., facilitator. 

NRVC hosts national convening to prepare for study

Several collaborating national organizations were invited to provide professional insights and recommend questions for the new NRVC/CARA Study of Recent Trends in Newer Vocations to Religious Life.  Representatives gathered at a convening in Buffalo prior to the start of the NRVC Convocation. The gathering was facilitated by Sr. Maria Hughes, ASC. At this convening, participants showed support for NRVC's forthcoming study of newer members. 

These national organizations included representatives from:

A Nun's Life Ministry

Association of Latin American Missionary Sisters/Asociación de Hermanas Latinas Misioneras en America (AHLMA)

Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate

Communicators for Women Religious

I felt that it was a significant acknowledgement of the value of our roles as communicators that we were invited to have a seat at the table for these valuable discussions. We know the importance of communications in promoting the Gospel work of Catholic Sisters, religious life and in attracting vocations. Congrats to NRVC for its recognition of that. A lot has changed on the communications and technology front since the last survey was done. It is critically important that the communications function and its implications on religious life not be overlooked.

Many thanks to NRVC, CARA and the GHR Foundation for advancing this important piece of research that will surely benefit us all as we move into the future. I am grateful to have been part of this process and honored to have represented CWR and our members.

Stephanie Hall, CWR Board member

Read the article from the Communicators for Women Religious in their  January newsletter that shows support for the study.

Conference of Major Superiors of Men

Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious

Giving Voice

“It’s important to have update to date information about the people who are joining religious life today. The needs of our world are complex and ever-growing. New members are coming with increasingly diverse backgrounds and experiences to meet these needs. I believe this is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It’s crucial for communities to seek out and welcome this diversity as gift. It’s equally important for discerners and potential new members to know where their gifts and experiences are needed and will be welcomed. I strongly encourage all new members to complete the survey and to ask your community leadership to do the same.’

Sr. Jessi Beck, PBVM, Giving Voice Core Team

Read the article in their March 2019 newsletter here.

Leadership Conference for Women Religious

Mexican American Catholic College

“It was an honor to represent MACC at the Convening and Convocation. The mission of the Mexican American Catholic College is to empower and educate leaders for service in a culturally diverse church and society. Thus, it is an opportune moment for MACC to take part in this Convening and assist NRVC in this study which will identify the changes and indicators of
religious life in the 21 st century. We are called to recognize the sign of our times and respond in ways that help us navigate the contours of this changing reality.

It is important to include the voices of diversity, a range of experiences, and cultures. I believe these will strengthen competencies and assist institutions in developing long-term plans to address the needs of their existing and new members. I hope the results of the study helps religious institutes who are intentionally responding to the opportunities and challenges of growing cultural and generational diversity in their communities.”

Sr. Elizabeth Ann Guerrero, MCDP, Faculty, Mexican American Catholic College

Read the article from the Mexican American Cultural Center in their  newsletter that shows support for the study.

Religious Brothers Conference

The Religious Brothers Conference was grateful to be part of the national convening in November.  The Religious Brothers Conference has as one of its goals “to promote the Vocation of the Religious Brother.”

Being part of the conversation with other national organizations was a wonderful opportunity to promote the Vocation of Religious Brothers and to contribute to the study of Religious Life in the United States.

The Religious Brothers Conference hopes that this CARA survey will be helpful to all as we move into the future together.

Brother Bill Boslet, OSF, Executive Secretary, Religious Brothers Conference

Religious Formation Conference

We are pleased to support this new research effort by the National Religious Vocation Conference in conjunction with CARA.

RFC Facebook post 2.27.2019

Read the article on the website of the Religious Formation Conference encouraging leaders and newer members to complete the survery.

Every religious superior will be sent a two page questionairre in February. Newer members who entered between 2003 - 2018 will be sent a survey in April. 



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 February 2020

World Day for Consecrated Life

February 1-2

NFCRV Applications Accepted

January 6- April 15, 2020

Member Area Gatherings

Delaware Valley, February 25, Philadelphia

Mid-Atlantic, March 2

West Coast, March 12, ZOOM call


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