donna_bethellChristendom College’s Chairman of the Board, Donna Bethell, wrote an article for the National Catholic Register on December 17, on the recent report on the apostolic visitation on institutes of women religious in the United States, published by Congregation for institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life on December 16.

In her post, Bethell posits that, amongst the many findings and commentary on the state of religious vocations amongst women in the U.S., the report does very little to explain why there is such a decline in women’s religious vocations, and what can be done to improve the numbers.

“The closest is comes is the comment, almost in passing,” she writes, that ‘vocation and formation personnel interviewed noted that candidates often desire the experience of living in formative communities and many wish to be externally recognizable as consecrated women. This is a particular challenge in institutes whose current lifestyle does not emphasize these aspects of religious life’ (4).”

She points out that, although not specifically stated, the report does give some hints to the reasons why the number of women religious is declining.  She says that the Congregation recommends that the women religious increase and elevate the practice of individual and communal prayer; assure that they are in doctrinal and apostolic harmony with the Church; and to strongly consider to improve a lived community life.

“There is a natural dynamic in consecrated life that requires steady focus on the Lord, who alone sustains it. If the focus is lost, so will be the life of the community. The Church suffers when a center of witness is lost, but the Holy Spirit is always at work, providing new opportunities for those who want to respond,” Bethell concludes.

The full story may be found here: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/the-visitations-phantom-issue-why-communities-thrive-or-decline

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