Study overview and links to key elements

Study overview and links to key elements

By Br. Paul Bednarczyk C.S.C.


 

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After a year and a half of research and study, I am pleased to present you with the final report on the state of religious vocations in the United States. This major research project was commissioned by the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) and conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University.  

The purpose of this study is to identify and understand who is entering religious life today and the characteristics of the religious institutes that are receiving and retaining new members. No study on religious vocations on this scale has ever been done before.  The goal of this research is to highlight the best practices in vocation promotion and religious formation.

Although changing times have diminished the number of sisters, brothers, and priests in the United States, a new and hopeful generation of men and women still desire to be a part of the remarkable legacy of vowed, religious life.  

The Church and the world need women and men religious. Their witness has been the impetus for social change and spiritual renewal throughout history. In the United States religious priests, sisters, and brothers have been the backbone of Catholic education, health care, and social service systems. They were the forerunners in promoting civil rights, world peace, and other similar justice issues affecting the poor and the powerless. Now, as our study indicates, newer and younger religious men and women are calling us to a renewed appreciation of our Catholic worship, identity, and communal living.  

As we welcome a new era for religious life, it is my sincere hope that religious institutes desiring new membership will welcome the best practices for attracting and retaining new members set out in our published report. I believe this research project will be a great contribution to the Church and to religious institutes in the United States.  

I am grateful to a major donor who has made this study possible, and to the following contributors who also lent their financial support to this project: Catholic Theological Union, J. S. Paluch Company, Inc., the J. S. Paluch Family Foundation, and TrueQuest Communications, all of Chicago, IL.  In addition, I am indebted to the major superiors of religious institutes and newer entrants who participated in our research.  To them I express my sincere appreciation.   

From their earliest arrival in the new world of America, religious sisters, brothers, and priests have consistently responded to urgent needs with unflappable resiliency and courageous faith. I am confident that, true to their longstanding tradition and legacy, they will respond in a similar fashion to the current and critical need of attracting new membership so that future generations may benefit from their generous service and loving witness. May their efforts be truly blessed.



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