Challenges to Religious life.
Being integrated into a Catholic culture increases the likelihood of the consid
eration of a vocation. There is a correlation that those who attend Catholic schools,
participate in parish youth groups, know a priest, sister, or brother, and are invited
to think about a religious vocation tend to be more open to a religious vocation. The
Church needs to support more structured outreach to younger people so as to ensure
their integration into a Catholic culture.
Educational debt prevents men and women from pursuing a vocation. Every third
person who inquires about religious life has an average student loan of $28,000. We
are losing vocations because of this issue. Seven out of 10 communities have turned
some inquirers away within the last ten years because of educational debt. One third
of communities say that some serious inquirers do not pursue an application because
of their debt, while another one third does not complete their application because of
their student loans.
Only thirty percent of newer entrants to religious life indicate that their parents
very much encouraged them in their desire to pursue a vocation. The Church needs
to provide greater education and structures of support for parents and families in their
vital role of vocation promotion.
Religious life in the United States has traditionally drawn its
immigrant populations. Those who may consider a vocation today
may be discour
aged by their citizenship status or by the educational prerequisites for entrance into
a community. The Church needs to look at creative solutions. The National Religious
Vocation Conference plans to conduct a study on the integration of men and women
from diverse cultures and ethnic backgrounds into predominately white, Caucasianreligious institutes