by Sr. Constance Veit, l.s.p.
I do a lot of outreach to the young on behalf of my religious congregation, so I try to be aware of trends in vocations work and the common traits of emerging generations. Recently I took some time to review the latest Study on Religious Vocations co-sponsored by the National Religious Vocation Conference and the Canter for Applied Research in the Apostolate, hoping that it would give me an “aha moment” on how to interest young women in our community of Little Sisters of the Poor.
I was struck by a section of the report entitled Intergenerational Living. According to the 2020 NRVC/CARA study, a mere 13% of perpetually professed members of religious communities are younger than 60, while the same proportion are at least 90 years of age. These are pretty sobering statistics!
However, I was consoled to read the following testimony from a young religious: “It is beautiful to have all different generations and ethnicities in one community, in one house, if we allow ourselves to see that beauty.” What a hope-filled attitude on the part of a young religious! It really inspired me to stop bemoaning the aging of our religious communities and start seeing the beauty.
So as we observe National Vocations Awareness Week, I would like to address a message of hope to my fellow women and men religious who, like me, are not so young anymore! May you too take heart in realizing that young people seeking religious life are not as deterred by the older demographics of most of our communities as we thought. They don’t seem to mind that many of us are older — but they do hope that we will live simply, in solidarity with the poor, and that we will live and pray together in a spirit of joy.
So how do we connect with the young? Let’s take a few cues from Pope Francis! CONTINUE READING.