Check out Terry Mattingly’s post from last Thursday at www.GetReligion.org entitled “Fewer children? Then fewer nuns . . .” This post is a commentary on an earlier Religion News Service article on that topic, based on the CARA Report on the newly professed religious issued a couple months ago. He asserts that the shrinking of American families has contributed to parents’ unwillingness to have their children enter religious life.
Mattlingly points out that while there is a “season of demographic decline” among women’s religious communities, there are some religious communities are booming. He makes the connection that there must be a doctrinal component in all this and says that’s the Vatican’s take on it, too.
From my own experience as the father of a young religious sister, I can surely affirm it’s a doctrinal matter—both for those entering religious life as well as for the parents, whose faith and lifestyle have a huge influence on their children.
As I noted in my comment at the end of the post, what really struck me was the closing comment about promoting vocations in a “culture nervous about large families.” Large families have alway been considered a sign of hope and divine blessing. Ours is largely a “culture of death” lacking in supernatural hope. And so we’re nervous.
More simply put, if the family is without a living faith and doesn’t esteem religious life (or priesthood or even having more kids), then it’s not fertile soil for vocations. That’s why we need a “new evangelization.”