So I was looking over the stats on priests, religious brothers, and religious sisters, and I noticed how few religious brothers there are in the United States. Is there any information on why there are so few left? Is it just more practical to become a religious priest in the United States?
Most of the religious orders, male and female, in the US have been severely affected by liberalism/unorthodoxy, and their numbers have been decimated as a result. We see this in the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), in open rebellion against the Church.
There are orthodox and growing religious orders and we should support them.
I think brothers are a hugely misunderstood vocation. People “get” that a man wants to be a priest but to a large extent don’t understand why he would want to be a non-ordained religious.
I was at a dinner and was involved in a conversation with a priest, a brother of the same order, the DRE of our parish, and myself. The DRE asked the brother when he would be ordained. He tried to explain that he would never be ordained, that wasn’t his vocation. She kept asking about why he was quitting, why he had decided not to go “all the way to priesthood,” etc. The other three of us tried to explain that Brother’s vocation was the male equivalent of a religious sister and ordination wasn’t part of it. She couldn’t get past the idea that a woman would become a sister because she CAN’T be ordained but since a man CAN be ordained why wouldn’t he want to be?
There may be more to it than that, but I think a total lack of understanding, even among otherwise knowledgeable Catholics, is a part of it.
It probably doesn’t seem easy to live as a religious brother when society has so much stuff in it nowadays. In the past life was just as simple as religious life, but now we are bombarded with consumerism and materialism which could make prospective religious brothers feel like they’ll be missing out on a lot.
I feel explaining your vocation would probably get frustrating after a while, and could lead to a brother assuming it’s God calling him to the priesthood. I don’t see many religious brothers in my area, but since they are a parallel to religious sisters I can see how their vocation is vastly different from the ordained, and definitely rewarding.
Here’s one link:
The Institute on Religious Life has published a website showcasing religious brothers:
If anyone needs an example of religious brotherhood, I would recommend reading the writings of St. John Baptist de LaSalle, founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. They have the highest success rate of any school system in the world, so there must be something to LaSalle’s methods. He wrote books on the Conduct of Schools; Christian Politeness; Mental Prayer; and three books on the FSC habit alone. He created the “Ecole Normale” or, in English, “Normal School”. Older posters will remember such schools where friends would go to learn to be teachers. When teaching schools were absorbed by universities, they became subject to the Communist infiltration, hence the problems we have today with our schools.
Thanks for the websites. I’m going to try to work in a part about religious life when I talk to my Confirmation students about Holy Orders. I want them to know the difference between and importance of both Vocations.