Deacon Stucchio posted the following (with a link to this blog) on his blog:
"Are Religious Sisters Experiencing a Crisis?"
From the looks of things, the more progressive orders are in a state of decline.Sometimes you can read a thought provoking article and say, Are you kidding me? Such was my reaction when I read this one on the Catholic News Service. (Highlights italicized below) Recently a group of Women religious gathered at the Women Religious Leadership Conference in Kansas City to discuss the future of their religious organizations.
Dominican Sister Laurie Brink in her keynote address reminded her audience that when religious life first emerged and again after the Second Vatican Council it was directed to the edges of society, "which were in desperate need of our compassionate attention.
So it is to the margins that religious life must again move, in order to be true to its original and renewed impetus toward holiness."
Also during the assembly in Kansas City, the 750 leaders of U.S. religious communities in attendance approved a resolution calling for members to promote legislation to preserve and renew wetlands and coastal regions and strengthen Louisiana's levees.
A second resolution they approved promotes debt cancellation in developing countries, especially through participation in a 40-day "rolling fast" in September and October promoted by the Jubilee USA Network.
I would not argue with their resolutions, but what caught my attention was this the following:
"If there is to be a future for women religious that upholds our dignity as reflections of the divine equal to that of our brothers, respects our baptismal promises and honors our commitment to the mission of Jesus," said Sister Laurie, "we must first be reconciled with the institutional church.
Such an effort will cost us dearly."She said that for the last 30 years women religious have slowly removed themselves from the inner circles of the church, because "we have tired of the condescension and we have opted for ministry outside the church."Women religious are angry, she said, "not about the Eucharist itself -- but about the ecclesial deafness that refuses to hear the call of the Spirit summoning not only celibate males, but married men and women to serve at the table of the Lord." That has helped put religious women's orders "on the verge of extinction," she said.
All I could do is think about Mother Teresa and her response when asked, "Mother, what do you think about women becoming priests? Don't you think you should be allowed to be ordained? Mother, in her usual wisdom answered, "My dear, I have no time to think about that, especially when Christ's poor are dying in the streets."
Mother's order reaches out to the marginalized, the suffering and dying yet remains Eucharistic centered and focused. Sr. Nirmala indicated that her order is not experiencing a vocation crisis. The Sisters spend many hours in the presence of our Lord to further their vocation to holiness and to gain their strength to meet the needs of the world head on.
So much energy, in my opinion is expended on personal agendas. I would like to remind the good Sister to speak to her Protestant and Jewish friends who ordain celibate and married women and men. I have and discovered that enrollment has been down significantly in their theological seminaries as well. They continue to have the same problems as Catholics in staffing their houses of worship.
I recently spoke with a local Rabbi who shared a pretty well known fact. The real issue is that our society (and perhaps some of our religious orders) have gone too far on the secular side. We have removed God totally from our lives.
I would think that women who felt they have a vocation would want to be more than social workers. If that were the case, no need to profess religious vows. Religious orders need to retain an identity and a unique charism. Some of the more traditional orders of women who also desire to minister to those on the edge of society have been experiencing some steady growth. The numbers may not be overwhelming as in the past, but they are in the right direction.
Here's one example: "1400 Percent Growth of Dominican Sisters." You can find others by referring to this Vocation Blog for more interesting links.
(Photo above is taken from the Nasheville Dominican Sister's website)
Posted by Deacon Tony Stucchio at 8:53 PM
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