I’m kind of using my last post as a springboard into a new topic, but please, let’s keep the previous thread going, by all means…
I’ve heard from different media sources that some religious communities are experiencing a resurgence in interest in vowed membership among younger women (20’s). I may be risking a generalization here, but it seems I’ve heard that a lot of the growth is happening in new orders that have embraced a more traditional way of living religious life, a lifestyle similar to what many of my sisters lived in the 1950’s, prior to the Second Vatican Council.
I’ve also heard on occasion that some think that today’s young adults are looking for more in the way of absolute answers and that’s what draws them to the more traditional orders. It seems to me that this attempt at an explanation does justice neither to the young people seeking to serve God nor to ourselves as members of long-established congregations who have responded to Vatican II and reformed our congregations. If we can explain away our diminishment in the numbers of women coming to our congregations by dismissing the concerns of young adults as “not quite adult”, then we have no motivation to really take a good, hard look at ourselves and ask some hard questions.
Now I’m not saying that we (and I mean many congregations of women religious) are failing to grapple with some of these questions. I think we give it a good shot, AND I think we’ve become very comfortable with the way we’ve operated the last thirty years or so. I think it’s the human condition.
We talk about being “counter-cultural”, but just how counter-cultural can we afford to be when we are preoccupied with many things? Just a question…
The answer that seems to come to me in this moment is that it is up to the individual members of a congregation to answer God’s call the best way we can. That the main role of an “institution”, whether that be a congregation, or religious life, the Church, etc. is self-perpetuation. I like to think that we are fundamentally different than other institutions in this regard, and perhaps with a lower fatigue level I would think that, but when it comes right down to it, religious congregations are human organizations, and like Janet said in her comment on my last post, subject to the politics that are part of any group or organization (hopefully on a smaller scale).
Love to hear from some of you, whether you are from a congregation like mine, or a more traditional order, or someone who stands outside both and can lend a more objective perspective.