“To be perfectly blunt, the more liberal groups don’t know who they are.” Sister Patricia Wittberg, a sociology professor at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis.
Check out this good story in Naples News about some young nuns living in a Mission at Ave Maria University. These nuns are from the Ann Arbor Dominicans.
This article covers a lot of territory including the discernment process and the life of the young sisters. Be sure to read the whole thing. I do want to just highlight this one section.
There are about 59,000 nuns in the United States, according to data from a Catholic research institute. That’s less than a third of the peak in the 1960s. The median age is in the mid-70s.
The average age of the 75 sisters that make up the Dominican Sisters of Mary is 26, according to Sister Joseph Andrew, the order’s vocation’s director. And the average age of a woman entering the religious order is 21.
So how to they do it? With all the pressure to achieve, to find a great career, to be the most beautiful, to have the perfect marriage and the perfect children, how have the Dominican Sisters of Mary have been able to attract young women?
“That’s a question I get a thousand times a day,” Andrew says.
She counts off a list of reasons, mostly revolving around the order’s clear devotion to the teachings of the Catholic Church.
It’s God’s “coolest order,” joked Sister Thomas Aquinas, 25, another of the Dominicans at Ave Maria.
“The conventional wisdom is that the more traditional or conservative orders seem to be getting younger members,” said Sister Mary Bendyna, executive director of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate in Washington, D.C. The center, which is affiliated with Georgetown University, plans to release a statistical study on the matter soon.
These more orthodox religious orders are tapping into the same network of homeschooled and retreat-going conservative young Catholics that Ave Maria University attracts, says Sister Patricia Wittberg, a sociology professor at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis. Wittberg, who studies religious communities, says these groups have a strong sense of mission.
“To be perfectly blunt,” Wittberg says, “the more liberal groups don’t know who they are.”
I will need to keep an eye out for that statistical study from Georgetown. Why do I have a suspicion that Georgetown will try to deny the obvious. I should pray not to be so cynical.