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Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
Catholic World News

Typical new US religious: 33-year-old cradle Catholic who regularly took part in Eucharistic adoration

February 01, 2023

The typical religious who professed perpetual vows in 2022 is a 33-year-old cradle Catholic who has three or more siblings and who regularly prayed the Rosary and took part in Eucharistic adoration before entering religious life, according to a survey released by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

A disproportionately high number attended Catholic schools or were home schooled.

484 of the 737 major superiors of US religious institutes responded to the survey, which was conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University. These 484 superiors reported that 80 men and 88 women professed perpetual vows in 2022. Of the 168, 52 newly-professed brothers and priests and 62 newly-professed sisters responded to the survey.

82% of the institutes reported no professions of perpetual vows, while 8% report two or more newly-professed religious. Among the survey’s findings:

  • 25% of newly-professed men and women religious came from families with five or more siblings; 10% have four siblings, 19% have three siblings, 20% have two siblings, 23% have one sibling, and 3% have no siblings
  • 39% are the eldest child in their family, while 20% are the youngest child
  • 8% of the newly professed religious are converts, typically at age 11
  • 84% of the newly professed religious reported that both parents are Catholic
  • 91% were raised by a married couple who lived together (12% by grandparents), and 4% were raised by a widowed parent
  • 30% say they have a relative who is a priest or religious
  • 66% are white, while 16% are Asian and 10% are Hispanic; 4% are black
  • 78% were born in the US; the mean year of entry into the US of newly professed foreign-born religious was 2000
  • 48% attended a Catholic elementary school (triple the rate of the Catholic adult population in the US)
  • 36% attended a Catholic high school and 36% attended a Catholic college
  • 57% participated in parish religious education programs as a child
  • though the newly professed were educated at a time when 2% of American children were home schooled, the survey found that “12% of responding religious report being home schooled at some time in their educational background,” for an average of 11 years
  • 19% of newly professed religious had earned a graduate degree before they entered religious life, while an additional 56% had earned an undergraduate degree; 53% had been employed full-time, and 31% part-time, before entering religious life
  • 6% of newly professed religious report that their entry into religious life was delayed by college debt
  • 13% participated in one of the World Youth Days, 9% took part in a National Catholic Youth Conference, 15% participated in a Franciscan University of Steubenville conference as a high school student, and 15% were involved in FOCUS (the Fellowship of Catholic University Students)
  • 50% took part in a youth ministry program, while 35% took part in a young adult ministry program; 48% served as parish religious education teachers, 46% as readers, and 43% in parish music programs; 42% had been extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion
  • 71% of the newly-professed male religious, and 36% of the newly-professed women religious, had been altar servers
  • 68% of the newly professed had attended a retreat before entering religious life, 70% regularly prayed the Rosary, and 77% regularly took part in Eucharistic adoration; 58% said they had received spiritual direction, and 48% took part in a faith-sharing or Bible study group
  • the typical newly professed religious began to consider a religious vocation at the age of 18 and was familiar with his or her institute for thiee years before entering religious life
  • 5% reported that a priest or religious discouraged them from entering religious life; 18% reported they were discouraged from entering religious life by their mother, 23% were discouraged from doing so by their father, and 26% were discouraged from doing so by another relative
  • 44% say they were encouraged by a religious to consider religious life, 44% by a friend, and 45% by a parish priest; 25% said their mother encouraged them to consider a religious vocation, and 16% said their father encouraged them to consider a vocation


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