Executive Summary

Executive Summary

2015 NRVC/CARA study on the Role of the Family in Nurturing Vocations

The Role of the Family in Nurturing Vocations to Religious Life and Priesthood

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Executive Summary

This report presents findings from a major study of the influence of families on the discernment of a vocation to religious life and priesthood. The goal of the research is to provide information that will help families promote vocations to religious life and priesthood.

CARA surveyed 2,174 men and women religious and 4,140 diocesan priests and seminarians who entered since 2000. The survey also asked respondents to provide contact information for a family member. CARA then contacted 1,587 identified family members with an invitation to complete a similar survey.

CARA received completed responses from 1,279 men and women religious and 1,352 diocesan priests and seminarians for a response rate of 59 percent and 33 percent, respectively, and 892 family members, for a response rate of 58 percent. Another 15 family members participated in one of two focus groups, held in Washington, D.C. and in Chicago, IL, in May 2015.

 

Major findings

Start with a strong Catholic foundation

• Family members of seminarians, priests, and religious are usually Catholic themselves and are more likely than Catholics in general to have attended a Catholic school. They are more likely than other Catholic adults to say that their Catholic faith is the most important part of their daily life. One in five had a priest or a religious already in their extended family.

• These family members report a more engaged prayer life than do other Catholic parents or other Catholic adults in general. Nearly nine in ten pray daily, compared to just over half of U.S. Catholic adults and just over a third of Catholic parents. They also feel more strongly than Catholic adults in general that it is important that younger generations of the family grow up Catholic.

 

Build a culture of vocation in families

• Religious faith was at least “somewhat” important to these families at the time their family members was considering a vocation. Six in ten say the family was attending Mass together weekly and a quarter say the family typically prayed at home together daily, apart from prayers at meals.

• Family members were engaged in their faith in public ways. Eight in ten were active in parish life, two in three say the family participated in Eucharistic Adoration, and three in five say the family prayed the rosary together.

• Families typically ate dinner together daily and two in three report that the family gathered together at least once a week for a game or movie night, family discussion, or family prayer.

• More than half report that Catholic media, such as books, movies, and TV shows, were important religious activities in the family.  About the same proportion say that volunteer or charitable service in the community were important to the family.

 

Support and promote vocations in families

• More than half of responding family members say they have encouraged a family member to consider a vocation to priesthood or religious life. Most often, it is parents or grandparents who encourage vocational discernment.

• Family members recommend acceptance, encouragement, and support for those considering a vocation. They suggest that families should uphold priesthood and religious life as options for young people when they are exploring and considering their future.



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