Profile of the New US Religious: 37-year-old cradle Catholic who regularly takes part in Eucharistic adoration
The typical religious who professed perpetual vows in 2013 is a 37-year-old cradle Catholic who has three or more siblings and who regularly prayed the Rosary and took part in Eucharistic adoration before entering religious life, according to a survey released by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
460 (56%) of the major superiors of US religious institutes responded to the survey, which was conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). These 460 superiors reported that 107 men and women professed perpetual vows in 2013. Of the 107, 11 newly-professed brothers and 69 newly-professed sisters responded to the survey.
87% of the institutes reported no professions of perpetual vows, while 3% report two or more newly-professed religious.
Among the survey’s findings:
28% of newly-professed men and women religious came from families with five or more siblings; 19% have four siblings, 14% have three siblings, 24% have two siblings, 11% have one sibling, and 4% have no siblings
42% are the eldest child in their family, while 17% are the youngest child
18% of the newly professed religious are converts, typically at age 22
77% of the newly professed religious reported that both parents are Catholic, and 46% say they have a relative who is a priest or religious
74% are white, while 14% are Asian and 12% are Hispanic; 0% are African-American or Native American
76% were born in the US, and Vietnam was the second-leading nation of origin; the typical newly professed foreign-born religious entered the US in 1997
43% attended a Catholic elementary school, while 31% attended a Catholic high school and 30% attended a Catholic college; 51% participated in parish religious education programs as a child though the newly professed were educated at a time when fewer than 1% of American children were home schooled, the survey found that “5% of responding religious report being home schooled at some time in their educational background,” for an average of ten years
24% of newly professed religious held graduate degrees when they entered religious life, while 41% held bachelor’s degrees; 64% were employed full-time, and 25% part-time, before entering religious life
10% of newly professed religious report that their entry into religious life was delayed by college debt
24% participated in one of the World Youth Days, 9% took part in a National Catholic Youth Conference, and 6% participated in a Franciscan University of Steubenville conference as a high school student
46% took part in a youth ministry program, while 25% took part in a young adult ministry program; 54% served as parish religious education teachers, 45% as readers, and 49% in parish music programs; 55% of the newly-professed male religious, and 16% of the newly-professed women religious, had been altar servers
68% of the newly professed had attended a retreat before entering religious life, 59% regularly prayed the Rosary, and 70% regularly took part in Eucharistic adoration; 54% said they had received spiritual direction
the typical newly professed religious began to consider a religious vocation at the age of 17 and was familiar with his or her institute for two years before entering religious life
12% reported that a priest or religious discouraged them from entering religious life; 26% report they were discouraged from entering religious life by their mother, 21% were discouraged from doing so by their father, and 36% were discouraged from doing so by another relative
46% say they were encouraged by a religious to consider religious life, 39% by a friend, and 39% by a parish priest; 29% said their mother encouraged them to consider a religious vocation, and 23% said their father encouraged them to consider a vocation