In 2008 I am wondering:
- What became of the dissident orders listed below?
- How has the model of the “sister who lives in an apartment alone and drinks beer on tap at the local watering hole” worked out? Have folks like that stuck with the orders as the much older members needed care in nursing homes and the motherhouses got consolidated or sold?
- What became of all the motherhouses? We are just a few years away from a massive sell off of motherhouses that are the last homes to communities that no longer need them for formation. For a number of them, they can’t today and most certainly won’t be able to use them in the next 10 years for existing members…. The combination of size, expense and unsuitability of a lot of these locations as nursing homes… And that is where the majority of today’s women religous who belong to the “Leadership Conference of Women Religious” will be – if they are still in this vale of tears – in the next 10-20 years. Longevity for women who failed to have spiritual daughters will not prove to be a picnic.
- Conversely, how are the Domincians in Nashville doing? Ann Arbor? What about in New Jersey? How are the women of the Franciscans of the Eternal Word faring? Are they in need of downsizing today? Have they been forced into selling motherhouses for lack of bodies to fill them?
- “A recent study of 142 new or emerging communities of consecrated life by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University concluded that “the Catholic Church in the United States may be on the threshold of another cycle of rebirth in consecrated life — new groups of Catholics committed to a shared spirituality and the evangelical counsels [vows of poverty, chastity and obedience] that will address the changing times, concerns and needs in new and creative ways.”” – How did that play out?
- What happened to the Basilian Sisters of Saint Basil the Great in Union Town? Are they still at the motherhouse?
- What happened to the Holy Cross Sisters at Notre Dame?
Monday, April 21, 2008
From Our Sunday Visitor
Speaking to a group of superiors general, Pope Benedict said that many orders are experiencing “a difficult crisis due to the aging of members, a more or less accentuated fall in vocations and, sometimes, a spiritual and charismatic weariness.”
Three days later, the pope met with leaders of the Jesuits and reminded them of their fundamental duty of “keeping the harmony with the magisterium, which avoids creating confusion and bewilderment among the people of God.”
It may seem strange to Catholics in the pews that Pope Benedict felt compelled to remind superiors that many Religious orders are in disarray and that they should be in harmony with the magisterium. After all, canon law says that sisters, brothers and priests in Religious orders are to be “totally dedicated to God” and to “the upbuilding of the Church.”
Yet, the pope was voicing the obvious: Many Religious orders that thrived for a century or more have given up their traditional work and common life and are struggling to decide who they are and how they relate to the Church.
Furthermore, many of the most outspoken Church dissidents are members of Religious orders, a fact that naturally raises this question: “How can one remain a member of a Religious order while at the same time rejecting Church teaching?”
While Religious orders of both men and women are struggling today, the men’s orders have remained more stable, probably because about three-quarters of the approximately 19,000 men Religious are priests, an identity that grounds them.
The crisis is more pronounced among women’s orders, which have about 65,000 members. What follows is a closer look at the current concerns about Religious orders via a focus on women Religious.
These include a loss of identity, shrinking vocations, retirement worries and at-risk property. Some of the sisters interviewed for this article asked not to be named out of concern for repercussions from their orders.
Some orders have lost a sense of themselves
When Vatican II documents directed Religious orders to update obsolete practices and to examine their lives and ministry according to their founders’ vision, confusion reigned in many orders. Some orders did manage to renew their practices — perhaps 10 percent to 20 percent of women’s orders — while maintaining their identity as consecrated Religious.
Pope Benedict alluded to those renewed orders in his remarks to superiors, saying they are a positive sign, “especially when communities have chosen to return to the origins and live in a way more in keeping with the spirit of the founder.”
However, many orders of women Religious went far beyond the mandates of Vatican II, even blurring the distinction between their vowed members and lay “associate members.” These orders have been outspoken in their efforts to “transform,” bring “systemic change” and “re-image” Religious life and Read the rest of this entry »