At the 2011 National Meeting, Sr. Marysia Weber, R.S.M., a Religious Sister of Mercy, gave a very popular talk on the effect of the new forms of media on priestly and religious vocations.
Sister made the point that studies have shown that people today are more narcissistic, hardly a good foundation for religious life. There is also more of a blurring between fantasy and reality. One example was that of a youngish priest who spent hours on a social networking site after 11:00 pm each night. As a result, he was late for Mass, lost his prayer life, and could not fulfill his pastoral duties.
And how do people hear the voice of the Lord when they are glued to technology 24 hours a day? Can they really give it up for, say, monastic life?
“The internet is a useful tool, but it can be harmful if not used with discretion or excessively,” she said.
If you want a very thoughtful and insightful perspective on these questions and issues, please visit our website to order Sister’s talks. Three topics are covered: The Church and Electronic Media, Unanticipated Effects of Regular Internet Use, and The Interface of Virtual Reality with Actual Reality. They are available on CD and also in MP3 format.
When Pope Benedict XVI visited Great Britain in 2010, the Press had their pens poised to write stories about the dismal failure of his trip. You didn’t read any stores of the kind because guess what, it was a big success. The crowds were big (even in Protestant Scotland over 100,000 people lined the streets to wish him well) and the critics seemed to disappear in light of the outpouring of love for the Holy Father.
Now comes an article in The Times of London which indicates that the number of women entering religious orders has almost tripled since the Holy Father’s visit.
Laura Adshead, the former girlfriend of the current Prime Minister David Cameron, entered Regina Laudis Abbey in the USA. A congregation in York, after years of no activity, has six solid inquiries. In another order, three women are entering their novitiate in the fall. Still another has had no novices for twelve years but now has one with two more coming.
Father Christopher Jamison, National Office for Vocation, said, “In the last few years, the number of people applying to seminaries has been gradually increasing and, in more recent years, just in the last couple of years, ever since the Papal visit, the number of women approaching women’s congregations has also been increasing.”
Also, 1 in 5 new vocations are converts. The Lord calls. And women are responding.
Annie Stuhlsatz, now Sr. Mary Lucia, unexpectedly heard the first stirrings of a vocation call when she attended a retreat one summer while in high school and the priest asked those who were interested in religious life or the priesthood to come forward. She was shocked and “terrified” that she felt strongly motivated to come forward. However, she didn’t know any sisters or what religious life was like so, “I didn’t move.” But when she stayed at convents and monasteries on a journey east, she discovered that “Sisters are real, and they’re kind of fun.”
When she visited a convent in Wichita, right close to home, she thought, “Why not here?” Now she is a novice with the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, an IRL Affiliate Community, along with two other novices. Before religious life she was searching and lost but now she says she has joy and contentment and peace. Her mother says, “She’s so happy, so beaming, so much at peace….We’re very proud of her.”
Read the full story in the Wichita Eagle.
On March 20, 2012, Archbishop William E. Lori was appointed to be the next archbishop of Baltimore. Since 2001, he has been the bishop of Bridgeport, CT.
In a CNS News Service story Archbishop Lori said that he expects that religious vocations will be one of his priorities in Baltimore. Vocations was certainly was one of his priorities in his last assignment. During his tenure in Bridgeport from 2001 to the present, 35 priests were ordained and 39 seminarians are currently in formation. Eight orders of women religious and a new religious institute were welcomed into the Diocese including the Missionaries of Charity; the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary; the Institute of the Servants of the Lord and Virgin of Matára; and a new religious institute, the Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of the Springs of Bridgeport.
May God bless the new Archbishop and may vocations continue to flourish under his guiding hand with the help of the Holy Spirit and the prayers of the faithful.