The 6th graders are asked to pray with their families in search of a vocation, whether religious life, single life, or married life. Research supports that those choosing religious life first considered these vocations around 6th grade. We provide information on what a “vocation” is and how to discern so that each 6th grader may best serve God and others.
Who’s Entering RELIGIOUS Life?
Just who is considering religious life is tracked by a number of different organizations, including the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the National Religious Vocation Conference, and VISION Vocation Network.
Newer entrants identify their primary reasons for coming to religious life as a sense of call, a desire to deepen their prayer and spiritual life, and a desire to live and work with others who share their faith and values.
In 2014 there were nearly 1.2 million religious brothers, sisters, and order and diocesan priests in the world:
705,529 religious sisters and nuns
279,561 diocesan priests worldwide
134,752 religious order priests
55,314 religious brothers
In the United States
• Newer entrants are attracted to communities that have a strong Catholic identity, are hopeful about their future, have members who live together in community, and have a structured prayer life.
• There are more than 66,000 religious sisters, brothers, and priests in the United States in more than 800 religious institutes (approximately 600 institutes of women and 200 of men).
• Nearly 1,000 U.S. women are in formation preparing to become sisters.
• More than 100 women and men in the U.S. profess perpetual vows annually.
• Fifty percent of new religious report that they were 17 or younger when they first considered a vocation to religious life.
• In 2014 approximately 477 entered priesthood—266 to diocesan priesthood (from 114 dioceses) and 96 to religious priesthood. Among religious orders, the largest number of respondents came from the Jesuits, Dominicans, and Benedictines.
• The average age of entrance to religious life is 30 for men and 32 for women.
• Newer entrants are 58 percent Caucasian; 21 percent Hispanic/Latino/a; 14 percent Asian/Pacific Islander; 6 percent African American; 1 percent other.
• 70 percent of newer entrants have a bachelor’s degree when they enter.