Religious vocation

Why religious vocation is so in decline these days?

I am considering to encourage my two children to pursue religious vocation but don’t know whether it appears too unrealistic?

It’s certainly not unrealistic. Religious life is a real vocation, even today, when less people are considering it than maybe over half a century ago.
The question should be: what vocation are they called to?

With a decline in spirituality comes a decline in vocations. Take your children to Mass every Sunday and pray with them and for them. Encourage them to discern what vocation God is calling them to- not what vocation you want them to be called to.

I think this is really the key thing. St. Thérèse’s parents, Ss. Louis and Zélie Martin, initially thought they were not meant to have children, but then through their vocation to marriage they had five children who survived to adulthood, and all became nuns.

I do think if every person discerned honestly what life God is calling them to, there would be an increase in vocations to priesthood and religious life, but I also think there would be an increase in vocations to marriage.

We ask in our family prayers for each child to discern their vocation and for God to help my husband and I live out our vocation faithfully. As our children get older, I think we will discuss vocation as well as career (rather than focus simply on career) - what am I meant to do with my life that will glorify God?

Few Orders are really living it now. With the decline has come a move to being elite . and rich.

As one person thinking of joining said,.“They are all too cosy.”

And of course,the extent of child abuse by Orders has played a large part.

This is a question that is exceedingly complex to answer.

In my grandmother’s generation (so we are speaking of the 19th century), her opportunities in life were exceedingly limited and her expectations were pretty much defined for her. She was such a wonderful, intelligent and vibrant woman.

Unlike my grandmother, my mother had more opportunities and the opportunity to have a professional career – but in an era when her career choices were severely limited. She began her life in what was then a very traditional field for a woman…and she had the opportunity to move beyond that, thankfully. Many women did not.

Religious life was seen as a very legitimate and noble life’s work…like being a teacher or a nurse…a librarian or a secretary were proper choices for a young woman, if less selfless and noble, but the opportunities were restricted in a way they are not today. A woman’s access to higher education was also practically restricted.

In my younger days as a seminarian and priest, I worked with many Religious, male and female, who certainly felt the call to their vocation but who also said they had few if any other practical options, especially after the two wars and the depression.

Now women have almost limitless career choices and are favoured in non-traditional career paths. Society today, thankfully, is vastly different. It does not restrain, neither women nor men, in the ways it did in years past.

I had many more opportunities, in the society rebuilding after the last war, than my parents and certainly my grandparents had, that is unquestionable.

The generations after me? They have opportunities in terms of travel and study and careers that I never dreamed of nor could have imagined. I would hope that I would not have chosen differently had I belonged to a latter generation but the reality is that the horizon for a young person today is so much more broader and so much more vast than it was in my youth.

There are many, at least in the developed world, for whom the sky is the limit. That factor alone, combined with smaller families, the desire for grandchildren, and various other factors internal and external to the family makes clear to me why we have fewer vocations than in other eras.

I think it is absolutely wonderful to expose children to the priesthood/religious life – as they should be reminded that they have a broad scope of possibility, depending upon their interests and aptitude. It is wonderful, too, to let children know you would welcome their considering priesthood/religious life…but the choice is properly theirs and then the Church’s.

Frankly, many areas in the developed world where Religious once served have been taken over by others today…in health care, education, work with orphans and social service.

I have also seen how the vocation is no longer is esteemed or supported in the way it was when I was younger. That never bothered me in the least…but it is a simple reality that reflects on society, on individuals and above all on Catholics.

The saddest cases for me, as a priest, are working with youth whose vocations are fought by their families…sadder when it is families who projected a facade of piety that was for show, that is until their child expresses a wish to pursue a vocation.

Maybe expectations are too high?

I enquired about religious life a few years ago and the nuns were rude to me saying they don’t think I’m up to their standard because they can all speak at least 3 languages and have multiple degrees (all paid for by the church) while I have no degree and only speak English. so I stopped enquiring. I was the only person in my country to approach them and that’s the reception I got. Mind you, these women were from another country setting up their order in Australia.

Oh…your last sentence says everything. I have worked with Religious where, at least in the initial phase, they are not ready to receive people of another culture…and, frankly, it is very difficult for those first vocations because you have to leave your own culture behind to accept the new culture…and be willing to be sent back to the motherhouse, the novitiate, or the originating country on obedience. The retention rates in early years for such communities are very low and favour those candidates who are most willing to adopt the new culture of the country of origin for the community.

On the other hand, there are many Australian communities of religious life. Each has its own character. The fact that one was not a good fit does not mean religious life in toto is not a good fit.

It is certainly a very demanding life. The bar is deliberately very high.

My message was very clear. I want to encourage my two children to pursue religious vocation, NOT to force them to enter religious vocation (I don’t have that power too).

Encourage means to introduce them to religious life, to show them more choices to select in their life. They have to pray and discern their own vacation.

Sadly, most parents nowadays do not encourage their children to pursue religious vocation or even discourage them.


Why don’t you try another religious community? Not all religious orders are the same.

It’s been a few years, since then, I’ve gotten health problems and studied so in debt now. Two reasons I can’t enter religious life.

I don’t think it helps that there are fewer people in these vocations and priests are often spread over parishes. I imagine a lot of people who go into this were inspired and maybe even mentored by another priest or nun.

not necessarily and I am sure God has His ways whatever is the case.

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