Sunday, July 30, 2017

Vocations - what seems to work

I've long contended that while many progressive religious orders are slowly dying, ones that are traditional/orthodox in practice - both newly created, and even older ones - are thriving. Among those orders are the Sisters of Life (above), or the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (below).

Recently I came across the following passage in the 2009 Vocations Study Overview by the National Religious Vocations Conference that confirmed some of my observations.

The most successful institutes in terms of attracting and retaining new members at this time are those that follow a more traditional style of religious life in which members live together in community and participate in daily Eucharist, pray the Divine Office, and engage in devotional practices together. They also wear a religious habit, work together in common apostolates, and are explicit about their fidelity to the Church and the teachings of the Magisterium. All of these characteristics are especially attractive to the young people who are entering religious life today.

Let's break that down.

The most successful ones in terms of attracting and retaining members are ones that "follow a more traditional style of religious life."

That style includes living "together in community," participating in daily Eucharist, praying the Divine Office, engaging in in "devotional practices together. So community and communal activities are important in providing encouragements and support.

In addition, they "wear a religious habit." I've long pointed out this one. The habit serves as a way to identify and to evangelize. In public, priests should at the least wear their collars, and members of religious orders should wear their habits.  

The members "work together is common apostolates." To be honest, this is one that I've never really considered much. Certainly there are traditional apostolates - teaching, social ministry-based,  and health care, for example. They should avoid ones where they are called to compromise beliefs or downplay their identity - such as in government service.

 They "are explicit about their fidelity to the Church and the teaching of the Magisterium." I know I have always been troubled when people who identify as priests, deacons and religious publicly criticize, oppose, distort, or ignore Church teachings.

This study was from eight years ago, but I think the findings are still valid. And in recent years even as I've seen progressive orders slowly dying I've seen others following these guidelines growing. I'm optimistic.

Pax et bonum

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