A survey about Religious Life in Australia in the 21st Centuret

CONVERSATION ON THE FUTURE OF WOMEN RELIGIOUS IN AUSTRALIA

At the end of November this year, there will be a 3-day International Meeting in Rome on Vocations to Consecrated Life sponsored by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL). Those of us who are attending have been asked to provide prior feedback on religious vocations in our home countries.

As part of my preparation, I consider it vital to listen to the opinions and experience of young women who have had some engagement with Australian women religious in the Catholic tradition. You do not necessarily need to be considering religious life yourself, just interested enough in offering your wisdom as to where God may be drawing us for the future.

The Context

In the western world and in Australia in particular, “religious congregations are very aware of their vulnerability in the face of diminishing numbers… It seems clear that, unless there is a totally unexpected surge in new vocations, many congregations will fold within the next couple of decades.”1

Yet there do seem to be young women who are searching for something more and who are open to the possibility of a call to religious life. In the words of one of them:

The Spirit of God is still active, renewing the Church and raising young men and women to live radically under the evangelical counsels. We still see people giving ALL for the sake of the Gospel, to be a prophetic voice for the Church and the world… Young people ARE interested, but they want to live a life that challenges them, not a life they could have if they were still in the world.2

* 1. 1. What is your response to the points above?

* 2. What is your age?

* 3. What do you think would attract young women (say, 20 to 45, or thereabouts) to consider apostolic religious life?

* 4. What might be some concerns that might deter them?

* 5. In what way(s) might religious congregations need to be open to conversion / change?

* 6. Is a religious habit something you consider important?

* 7. I am attracted to what style of spirituality?

* 8. Why do you think that a significant number of young women have chosen to join congregations in the United States in recent years as opposed to Australian orders? 

* 9. What has been your experience of Apostolic religious congregations in Australia?

* 10. Are there any other things you wish to say? 

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