A New CARA study was published just before the observance of the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life on February 2nd
Findings: Religious Profession Class of 2014 Highly Educated, Very Likely To Have Attended Catholic High School and University…study finds two-thirds of new religious entered community life with a bachelors degree or higher.
WASHINGTON — Men and women religious who professed perpetual vows to the nearly 800 communities of religious life in the United States in 2014 are highly educated and more likely than the average Catholic adult to attend Catholic high schools and universities. These were among the findings of the annual survey on new men and women religious conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University.
About four in 10 (42 %) attended a Catholic elementary school, which is the same as that for all Catholic adults in the United States. They are more likely than other U.S. Catholics, however, to have attended a Catholic high school (31% of responding religious, compared to 22% of U.S. adult Catholics) and much more likely to have attended a Catholic college (34 percent of responding religious, compared to just 7 % of U.S. adult Catholics.)
Eighteen percent of responding religious earned a graduate degree before entering their religious institute. Two in three (68 %) entered their religious institute with at least a bachelor’s degree (61 % for women and 80 % for men).
Most religious did not report that educational debt delayed their application for entrance to their institute. Among those who did report educational debt, however, they averaged one year of delay while they paid down an average of $15,750 in educational debt. Several of the women, but none of the men, reported receiving assistance in paying down their debt.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations commissioned the survey and released the results before the annual celebration of World Day for Consecrated Life, February 2 which is also celebrated in parishes on this coming weekend. The survey also comes amidst the Year of Consecrated Life, which began November 30, 2014. During this year, Catholics are invited to learn more about religious life by participating in the Day of Open House with Religious on this Sunday, February 8. Resources for the World Day of Consecrated Life, the Year of Consecrated Life and the entire CARA survey can be found at www.usccb.org/consecratedlife.
“Given the fact that 89 percent of those responding to the recent CARA survey of new religious had participated in some form of a ‘Come and See’ experience prior to entering their religious institute, we know it is important for our youth and young adults to have greater exposure and familiarity with the community life of religious,” said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, North Carolina, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. “I encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunity to visit local religious communities in their own area during the Day of Religious Open Houses, Sunday, February 8.”
CARA received a response from 454 of 799 major superiors, for an overall response rate of 57 percent among religious institutes.
Among the major findings:
- The average age of responding religious of the Profession Class of 2014 is 37.
- Half of the responding religious are age 34 or younger. The youngest is 24 and the oldest is 64.
- Two-thirds of responding religious (67 %) identify as white, more than one in seven (15 %) identifies as Hispanic, and one in seven
(14 %) identifies as Asian.
- Most responding religious (76 %) were born in the United States. Of those born outside the United States, the most common countries of origin are the Philippines and Vietnam.
- Among those identifying as Hispanic/Latino(a) two-thirds (67 %) are U.S. born and one-third (33 %) are foreign born
- Nearly nine in 10 (86 %) responding religious have been Catholic since birth. More than eight in 10 (83 %) come from families in which both parents are Catholic. Nearly all of the religious of the Profession Class of 2014 (89 %) participated in some type of vocation program or experience prior to entering their religious institute. Most commonly was a “Come and See” experience (59%) or a vocation retreat (50 %). Men were more likely than women to have participated in a “Come and See” experience (66% and 56%, respectively) or in a vocation retreat (59% for men compared to 45% for women).
To read the full CARA report: