Religious Census?


#1

Greetings fellow humans,
I am giving a talk for a retreat in two weeks and I would like to find out the total number of consecrated religious (monks, friars, sisters, etc [NOT diocesan priests]) there are in the US or throughout the world. If there is some website or organization that tracks that sort of stuff I would love to know about it. But if not, then I suppose a rough estimate will suffice. Thanks! Yall are awesome!


#2

[quote="JediHockey, post:1, topic:301839"]
Greetings fellow humans,
I am giving a talk for a retreat in two weeks and I would like to find out the total number of consecrated religious (monks, friars, sisters, etc [NOT diocesan priests]) there are in the US or throughout the world. If there is some website or organization that tracks that sort of stuff I would love to know about it. But if not, then I suppose a rough estimate will suffice. Thanks! Yall are awesome!

[/quote]

Georgetown University has a center that does this. It's not the most reliable, but it will be rather close. It's not reliable for several practical reasons: 1) like every other piece of data, by the time it gets to the public, it's obsolete. 2) it's very clerical. Even though they have been asked not to separate ordained brothers from their non-ordained brothers in those communities that don't make this distinction, they insist on doing so. It decreases the number of brothers. 3) they make no distinctions between sisters and nuns; but when dealing with friars and monks, they separate the ordained from the non-ordained. Go figure. 4) they never mention secular institutes, which are also institutes of consecrated life. 5) they count religious students as seminarians, not as religious. For example if a Dominican is studying to be a priest, he's counted as a seminarian, even though he's in vows, which canonically makes him a full religious with all of the rights and duties thereof. The same with novices. Novices are religious, but they don't count them. 6) they count secular priests who belong to a diocese, but leave out secular priests who belong to societies of apostolic life. If they count them, it's not clear whether they put them under regular or secular priests.

The success of good statistics is to represent people as they see themselves, not as you see them. If a priest sees himself as a Benedictine monk, then count him as a monk, not under priests. If he sees himself as friar, then count him under brothers, not as a priest, and so forth.

Good luck with your project.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, FFV :)


#3

[size=]This seems to be a monumental task in itself. Can you give a talk without these statistics? Every diocese in each state may have the names of Priests serving there (you would have to add them up), on their website. You may be looking at longer than two weeks to find out. Unless as you requested, someone who keeps tabs on it. If you should come up with a figure, would you mind very much sharing it on this thread? I am curious to know this myself. God bless you and may Christ be your companion on the way to the priesthood. You can be assured of my prayers![/size]


#4

[quote="JReducation, post:2, topic:301839"]
they count secular priests who belong to a diocese, but leave out secular priests who belong to societies of apostolic life. If they count them, it's not clear whether they put them under regular or secular priests.

[/quote]

On a lark I asked one of the priests at my parish (Companions of the Cross) where he would be placed in this ind of census, and I stumped him. I guess that shows how hard a census like this would be! :D


#5

[quote="Melchior, post:4, topic:301839"]
On a lark I asked one of the priests at my parish (Companions of the Cross) where he would be placed in this ind of census, and I stumped him. I guess that shows how hard a census like this would be! :D

[/quote]

This is not easy. I'm not blaming Georgetown for the lack of precision in their stats. I'm warning the reader not to take the stats too seriously.

That was an excellent example. Where would a Companion of the Cross place himself?

The Vincentians have the same problem. St. Vincent de Paul wanted a congregation of secular priests. In today's world, congregation is understood to be consecrated religious in simple vows. The Vincentians as well as the Daughters of Charity make vows, live in community, look like religious, so everyone says that they are religious. Ask them, they say that they're not religious, they are secular, but they're not diocesan or a society of apostolic life, because such a thing did not exist when they were founded. They get stumped when you ask them, "Are you a duck or a goose?"

One will tell you that they are ducks and another will say that they are geese. :shrug:

Fraternally,

Br. JR, FFV :)


#6

[quote="acadiANNA, post:3, topic:301839"]
[size=] God bless you and may Christ be your companion on the way to the priesthood.[/size] You can be assured of my prayers!

[/quote]

Well thank you very much for your prayers. But when did I ever say I was on the way to the priesthood??

Also, just noticed your username...Shout out to a fellow Louisianian! Geaux Tigers!


#7

[quote="JReducation, post:2, topic:301839"]
Georgetown University has a center that does this. It's not the most reliable, but it will be rather close.

[/quote]

Great, thanks! Could you possibly provide me with a link to the study? I searched around on their website and also the CARA studies thingy but to no avail...


#8

If you do not mind the work you could go to this website.

Catholic-Hierarchy: Its Bishops and Dioceses, Current and Past

If you go to each diocese and scroll down you will see the stats for that diocese across a number of years.


#9

[quote="Friar_David_O.Carm, post:8, topic:301839"]
If you do not mind the work you could go to this website.

Catholic-Hierarchy: Its Bishops and Dioceses, Current and Past

If you go to each diocese and scroll down you will see the stats for that diocese across a number of years.

[/quote]

This site is much less clerical than the Georgetown site, but still very clerical. They omitted all of the brothers' congregatioins: Christian Brothers, De La Salle Brothers, Xaverians, Alxians, the more than 25 communities of Franciscan brothers. They don't include any of the women's communities.

I don't understand how these people do statistics. CARA is just as bad. It's rather interesting, because it's almost as if they deliberately want to paint an uglier picture of vocations than they really are.

I was looking at some of the communities such as the Conventual Franciscans. The Conventual Friars actually reached their highest number ever, in 800 years, in 2004 when everyone was crying the blues about a vocation shortage. There are several other congregations and orders with the same high numbers after the year 2000. Other orders actually reflect my theory that we had a vocation explosion that corresponds to WW I and WW II. The numbers around the year 2000 are the same as they were in 1900.

The dying religious life that people are talking about is more myth than reality. The was a spike from 1925 to 1975. People seem to think that this was normal. Now they're seeing the real numbers as they always were before the spike and they're freaking out. The other spike before that was right after the French Revolution. Before that was the Middle Ages when the mendicants were founded. There have been three periods of extraordinary spikes.

My theory has been that the numbers rise and fall in waves and the increase is usually triggered by crisis. If I were an anthropologist, sociologist or statistician, I would try to prove my hypothesis. :D Maybe in my next life.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, FFV :)


#10

[quote="JReducation, post:9, topic:301839"]
This site is much less clerical than the Georgetown site, but still very clerical. They omitted all of the brothers' congregatioins: Christian Brothers, De La Salle Brothers, Xaverians, Alxians, the more than 25 communities of Franciscan brothers. They don't include any of the women's communities.

I don't understand how these people do statistics. CARA is just as bad. It's rather interesting, because it's almost as if they deliberately want to paint an uglier picture of vocations than they really are.

I was looking at some of the communities such as the Conventual Franciscans. The Conventual Friars actually reached their highest number ever, in 800 years, in 2004 when everyone was crying the blues about a vocation shortage. There are several other congregations and orders with the same high numbers after the year 2000. Other orders actually reflect my theory that we had a vocation explosion that corresponds to WW I and WW II. The numbers around the year 2000 are the same as they were in 1900.

The dying religious life that people are talking about is more myth than reality. The was a spike from 1925 to 1975. People seem to think that this was normal. Now they're seeing the real numbers as they always were before the spike and they're freaking out. The other spike before that was right after the French Revolution. Before that was the Middle Ages when the mendicants were founded. There have been three periods of extraordinary spikes.

My theory has been that the numbers rise and fall in waves and the increase is usually triggered by crisis. If I were an anthropologist, sociologist or statistician, I would try to prove my hypothesis. :D Maybe in my next life.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, FFV :)

[/quote]

I'm probably over-simplifying the matter, but I don't see how counting all of the Monks and Friars without distinction with the Monks and Friars who are Priests is all that hard. It seems there is a common misconception that when a Religious becomes a Priest his Priesthood surpasses his religious vows, which as you know is completely false. He is still a religious and should be recognized as a religious who is a Priest, not a Priest who is a religious. I don't know, perhaps I've been reading too many of your lectures. :D


#11

Even the Vatican does not handle this well. At the last World Youth Day in Madrid, the Holy Father had asked to have a special mass with seminarians. It’s clearly undestood that the Holy Father is not religious. He’s a secular priest. He’s not always going to use his terms correctly In fact, this was one case where he got some grief from the Sacred Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, because of what happened.

It stands to reason that the organizers of the event would have known that the Holy Father wanted a mass with men studying to be priests and that he uses the term seminarians, because it’s the most commonly used term, even though it does not apply to friars and monks who are studying to be priests. One who is planning such an event should know his terminology and also know the Holy Father’s limitations. Well they didn’t. They took him very literally. Outside of the cathedral were all of the friars and monks studying to be priests, because they were not invited to the mass. The reason they were not invited is because technically, they are not seminarians. They are fully professed religious.

If there can be such misunderstanding between the Vatican and the organizers of a mass, it does not surprise me that a team of statisticians, most of whom a probably laymen, don’t know how to classify people. If you look at the link that Friar David suggested, not every community is on that page. There are many more religious communities of men in the United States, but they don’t have priests. They left all of them out. The De la Salle Christian Brothers are the world’s largest religious community of brothers and the best known around the globe. They’re not on that list. What’s ridiculous about the whole thing is that most Catholic men over 50 were educated by brothers in high school.

The link that Friar David gave us at least got one part right. The orders of monks and friars are classified as institutes of consecrated life, not clerical institutes. For the longest time we have fought to get the label, clerical institute removed, because the only order of friars that was founded as a clerical order is the Dominican Order. The Carmelites, Trinitarians, Franciscans, Augustinians, and Servites were founded to live a very specific form of religious life, not to perform a specific priestly ministry as were the Dominicans.

The only contemplative order that is clerical is the Carthusian Order, but it’s not monastic. They’re hermits not monks. They never make it on those lists and neither do the Trappists. When you start leaving out groups, the layman who reads these stats panics. It begins to look as if religious life is dying. The truth is that the people who do stats don’t understand religious life and can’t separate religious from priestly fraternities. For the longest time the Vincentians were presented as religious, because they live in community. The Daughters of Charity have been presented as nuns, because they live in community.

The truth is that St. Vincent de Paul did not found any religious community nor did he want to do so. He founded a society of men called the Congregation of the Mission (aka: Vincentians or Lazarists). They are not religious. They are secular, like Maryknoll, SSPX, FSSP and others. Vincent also founded the Society of Ladies of Charity (aka: Daughters of Charity). They’re not religious either. They are secular women who live in community. Today, few statisticians know where to put them.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, FFV :slight_smile:


#12

[quote="JReducation, post:11, topic:301839"]
Even the Vatican does not handle this well. At the last World Youth Day in Madrid, the Holy Father had asked to have a special mass with seminarians. ** It's clearly undestood that the Holy Father is not religious.** He's a secular priest. He's not always going to use his terms correctly In fact, this was one case where he got some grief from the Sacred Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, because of what happened.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, FFV :)

[/quote]

Fascinating stuff as usual Br JR. Just thought I'd show how quotes can be taken out of context! Ach well maybe we're all going down the atheistic slippery slope!


#13

[quote="Pat_the_elder, post:12, topic:301839"]
Fascinating stuff as usual Br JR. Just thought I'd show how quotes can be taken out of context! Ach well maybe we're all going down the atheistic slippery slope!

[/quote]

LOL, when we say that the pope is not religious, we don't mean that he's a heathen. We mean that he's not a consecrated man. He's a secular priest. Big difference between being secular and being a heathen.

People often ask this whenever one says, "Father so and so is not religious." Immediately, they ask, "What do you mean? He's a very holy man."

Many people don't realize that the last religious pope was a Franciscan over 150 years ago, give or take a decade. Someone like Bl. John Paul, who did a lot of pastoral work in a diocese was much better acquainted with religious men and better acquainted with the language of religious life than someone like Pope Benedict who spent most of his life in the classroom. That's a very different world. I know, because I was there. There are religious and secular, but it makes little difference, because you're all there as teachers. If you're a religious, your particular charism gets lost in the shuffle of the academic world. When you're in a diocese, it's a different story. Religious take on many ministries at the diocesan level. These ministries showcase their charism, if they make good use of them.

No one expects the pope to think of terms like "Student-Friars", notice the hyphen. They're not studying to be friars, they are students who are friars. I wouldn't expect the pope to remember the difference between: religious brother, lay brother, coadjutor brother, cooperator brother. I'm sure that he's come across those terms in his reading, but they're not part of his daily vocabulary. These kinds of things you expect his staff to stay on top of when planning an even that involved diverse men. This was the complaint that the Sacred Congregation had. It was not against the pope. No one expects him to know all of this off the top of his head. But you do expect that the planners would have people on their team who know these things or would ask the Sacred Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic life, who's who and whom should they invite. Apparently, this did not happen and there were some broken hearts.

The mass was for all students for the priesthood, young and old. Those who signed up to go to Madrid, with plenty of time, were hoping for an invitation that never came. It was on a first come first serve basis. They could only accommodate so many in the church. It was hard to believe that the diocesan seminarians and the clerks regular all got their registrations in before the friars and the monks. At least some of the monks and friars must have gotten their registration in on time.

I believe that the Holy Father is trying to rectify this. During the ad limina visits by the bishops this year he reminded them not to be selfish and to promote vocations to the religious life, especially to the non-ordained religious men. He spoke very strongly about the duty of every Catholic diocese to promote vocations to religious life apart from the priesthood.

He's not saying that he does not want religious to be ordained. He's simply saying that the bishops need to work with the religious superiors to promote this way of life. Whether the religious is ordained or not is not up to the pope. He can't command an ordination. That would make it invalid. It's up to the individual and the major superior to decide which religious is ordained and which goes on to medical school, law school, education, mechanics etc. It all depends of the gifts of the individual and the identity of the community.

Personally, I had not heard this pope express concern for the male religious until after this incident in Madrid. Either he realized or someone on his staff pointed out that there was an oversight that caused feelings to be hurt and people to be disappointed. If there is one thing that I know about Pope Benedict, since he was Cardinal Ratzinger, he's very humble. Once he's made away that either he or his staff made a mistake, he acknowledges it by correcting the problem. He doesn't simply say, "I'm sorry" and moves on.

As we can see by his concern and deep sense of justice, he is A religious man, just not a religious.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, FFV :)


#14

I know we’re getting terribly off-topic, but I know for me personally as a man who is discerning the religious life I always get so frustrated when the diocese never mentions them. At Mass when they state their prayer intentions I usually only hear “For an increase in vocations to the Priesthood and for Religious Sisters.” (Or something along the lines of that). It seems the male religious are being tossed aside like a sock because we need diocesan priests, and this is obviously not the right thing to do. We need religious brothers just as much as we need clergy, and it seems dioceses are biased about this, sort of like there is a competition between the two.


#15

[quote="ATeutonicKnight, post:14, topic:301839"]
I know we're getting terribly off-topic, but I know for me personally as a man who is discerning the religious life I always get so frustrated when the diocese never mentions them. At Mass when they state their prayer intentions I usually only hear "For an increase in vocations to the Priesthood and for Religious Sisters." (Or something along the lines of that). It seems the male religious are being tossed aside like a sock because we need diocesan priests, and this is obviously not the right thing to do. We need religious brothers just as much as we need clergy, and it seems dioceses are biased about this, sort of like there is a competition between the two.

[/quote]

I don't thing that there is a competition. I have seen this done very differently in other countries. In the USA, people are very product oriented. The priest provides a product that the average Catholics needs, the sacraments. Religious men live a life of intimacy with Christ through prayer, penance, apostolic labor, community, solitude and silence. As Vita Consecrata points out, this way of life is essential to the life of the Church, because without spirituality, the Church has no backbone. The Church's backbone is not the sacraments, it's her life of faith, which is lived by religious and modeled for others to imitate.

However, in the mind of Americans, what religious do is not productive, because you can't see grace. You can't see spiritual growth. You can't see atonement. You can't see divine intimacy. Americans are very much into the visual. That's why TV works so well. Advertise on the radio and you won't get as many customers as you would if you advertise on TV. We're visually oriented. We value what we can see. What we can't see, such as the consecrated state, we consider to be nice, but not very important, even when the Church is saying that it is essential to the life of the Church and that without it, the Church will not survive. We have exported this utilitarian mindset to other countries. We look at people, religious, politics, morality, education, the arts and many other things that make us more human and better Christians through a utilitarian lens. If it produces something that I need or want, then it's necessary.

In the developing nations there is a very different attitude. Male religious make up the work force of the Church. Mission stations cannot function without brothers. The brothers are the mechanics, carpenters, electricians, teachers, doctors, nurses, engineers, parish administrators, catechists and very often the theology professors at the seminaries. They pray for brothers.

Even an organization as clerical as the SSPX has publicly admitted that they cannot run their missions without brothers.

It is utilitarian in a different kind of way. There is an appreciation for the brothers. The people appreciate their work, but also their holiness. I remember when I was in the Amazon. The people truly appreciated that the brothers had left their families and homeland to be there with them. They look upon this as a great sacrifice that they often said they could not make. When we explained that we did it for love, they found spiritual inspiration in this. The Gospel took on real life for them, "Leave everything, come follow me."

Americans and Europeans have lost the ability to connect the transcendent with the immanent. They only see the here and now. They're going to pray for priests, because that's the need that they see here and now. But that's a very immanent need. They're not praying for their transcendent need, because they don't see the compliment and the need.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, FFV :)


#16

You want true invisibility? Try being a secular (third order/oblate).
Completely invisible, including to many of the religious brothers/priests/sisters of their associated orders.


#17

So…could anyone provide like a rough estimate for the number of consecrated religious? 2,000 in the US? 20,000 in the US? 20,000 in the world? 200,000 in the world? I realize now the complexities behind getting an accurate number so I’m just looking for a ballpark estimate here because I don’t have a clue…thanks.


#18

[quote="JediHockey, post:17, topic:301839"]
So....could anyone provide like a rough estimate for the number of consecrated religious? 2,000 in the US? 20,000 in the US? 20,000 in the world? 200,000 in the world? I realize now the complexities behind getting an accurate number so I'm just looking for a ballpark estimate here because I don't have a clue...thanks.

[/quote]

Around the world there should be more than one million.

In the USA the LCWR has about 69,000 sisters (not nuns and virgins)
CMSWR has about 14,000 sisters (not nuns and virgins)

There are about 2,000 independent nuns

We have no idea how many consecrated virgins we have

We have no idea how many consecrated women hermits we have.

Council of Major Superiors of Men Religious has about 17,000 men, not including monks or hermits

There are about 1,000 monks and the number of consecrated male hermits is unknown.

Consecrated virgins and hermits are tracked by each diocese, because they do not belong to any national or international organization.

If you work with the numbers that we do know for the USA, we're talking about 106,000 consecrated men and women in the USA alone. The USA is on the low side is you compare the numbers of consecrated religious to the number of baptized Catholics. That's less than 1%. The last I heard, India led in proportion between baptized Catholics and consecrated religious.

The best resources in the USA are:

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious
Council of Major Superiors of Religious Men
National Association of Religious Brothers
Independent monasteries
Diocesan offices for religious

Fraternally,

Br. JR, FFV :)


#19

In our diocese it’s;

“An increase in vocations for priests, deacons, and the consecrated life”.

Of course, our Archbishop is a Jesuit. The Dominicans run a college here. And due to diocesan priest shortages we have a plethora of Religious, Congregations, and Societies of Apostolic Life (one was even founded here…I’m also including them as they may be secular priests, they belong to a Society). So it makes sense my diocese would promote this, it’s pretty much being run by those groups from the top down.


#20

OOPS, JediHockey! My bad! I mistakenly made the assumption this was a part of seminary studies. Can't explain where the thought came from. Still praying for your success in all you do. Yes, I support the purple and gold and I did learn to speak French from my parents. Proud to be Cajun! God bless!


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