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The Few, the Humble, the Sisters

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Sister Leslie Keener, CDP

For those in vocations work, there is no escaping talk of our current vocation “crisis.” Fifty years ago, religious Sisters seemed to be everywhere, running schools, hospitals, and other ministries. Now, there are fewer of us, true, but this isn’t—and shouldn’t be thought of as—a crisis.

Women are still entering religious life. Nearly 1,000 women are in formation in the U.S. right now, and there are 1.2 million religious brothers, sisters, and priests throughout the world. People are still hearing God’s call, and responding to it

Also, vowed religious life has never been something intended for everybody. From the desert ascetics in the third century to the present day, vocations to the religious life have been the exception. Certainly, there are many fewer nuns in the US today than there were in 1965, when the figure neared 180,000, but there were about the same number in 2014 as in 1900. The current “drought” isn’t the aberration; the midcentury spike in vocations was (https://vocationnetwork.org/en/articles/show/461-consecrated-life-through-the-ages-timeline).

It is a gift to have smaller numbers. We are not saddled with running institutions, but can return to our original purpose of serving the people of God—but not alone. When communities were larger, we could do everything on our own. Now we know we aren’t in this alone. We need other people—other laypeople and other religious—to carry on the mission of the Church.

I have lately noticed a lot of energy among laypeople regarding community, and that’s exciting. I think collaboration will be a big part of our future. It’s important to be with others in mission, and we can be certain, as we look to the future, that the Spirit will continue to move and to call and to care for the Church. Find out more at www.cdpkentucky.org

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