LCWR Orders Receiving “Almost Equal” Numbers of Vocations as CMSWR Orders.
Here is a preview of an interesting new study on women religious sponsored by two prestigious Catholic organizations that shows–contrary to popular opinion, and despite what a great many commentator have said–that “almost equal” numbers of women are entering both more “traditional” and “progressive” religious orders. The article, just posted online at America, is called, “Reality Check.”
This contradicts the received wisdom that those religious orders represented by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) are receiving absolutely no new vocations, and that those who are members of the Congregation of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR) are being flooded with applicants. This trope is repeated frequently by many commentators, even those favorably disposed to the LCWR. The authors of the study, however, write in one of their most interesting conclusions: “One of the most striking findings regarding new entrants is that almost equal numbers of women have been attracted to institutes in both conferences of women religious in the U.S. in recent years. As of 2009, L.C.W.R. institutes reported 73 candidates/postulants, 117 novices and 317 sisters in temporary vows/commitment. C.M.S.W.R. institutes reported 73 candidates/postulants, 158 novices and 304 sisters in temporary vows/commitment. (There are 150 nuns in formation in U.S. monasteries.)”
But popular opinion certainly would argue otherwise. George Weigel, for example, in an article in First Things called “Two Sisters, Two Views,” opined, “In any case, there can be no denying that the ‘renewal’ of women’s religious life led by the L.C.W.R. and its affiliated orders has utterly failed to attract new vocations. The L.C.W.R. orders are dying, while several religious orders that disaffiliated from the L.C.W.R. are growing.” But “utter failure” is inaccurate, as the study shows. [more]