Leadership Conference of Women Religious

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FAQ About Religious Life

Where can congregations get help in planning for the future and the care of their elderly?

The National Religious Retirement Office sponsored by LCWR with the national conference of bishops and the other conferences of religious leaders, provides a variety of methods of assistance. The Retirement Fund for Religious appeal raises an average of $26 million annually. Any religious congregation that needs assistance with funding for retirement may apply for grants. Workshops, on- site peer consulting and other educational services also are offered by the National Religious Retirement Office.

How are congregations dealing with care for their elders?

Congregations are using multiple strategies to care for their elders. Priorities are quality, cost effective care that promotes the value of the member, meaningful participation in community activities and opportunities for ongoing personal development and spiritual growth. In major urban areas such as Chicago, St. Louis, and New Orleans multiple congregations sponsor inter-congregational retirement care facilities. Smaller congregations sometimes partner with larger congregations to share space in the larger congregation's facility.

How many congregations are considering mergers?

We do not know precisely how many congregations are considering merger or re-configuration. Reconfiguration is a trend in large congregations with multiple provinces, and mergers tend to take place with small congregations that are part of a spiritual family or federation. These congregations seek to merge with one or more congregations of like mission and spirit.

What kind of steps are congregations taking to prepare for the future?

Congregations are doing serious planning for the future. This planning includes the future of the congregation's mission, the recruitment of new membership, and providing cost-effective, quality care for senior members. There is no single decision or strategy that makes the difference between success and failure. Rather a combination of wise choices creates the conditions necessary for congregations to reach their goals.

Is it true that younger people are considering religious life more so now than in the last 10 years and, if so, why?

This is true for only a small percentage of younger Catholic women who are aware of religious life as a life option. Another segment of the younger Catholic population is not necessarily opposed to religious life; they are just indifferent to it or unfamiliar with it.

What are women looking for in religious life?

Where women may have at one time have come to apostolic religious life for ministry, today's candidate may already be engaged in ministry, but is spiritually seeking more. In general, women come to religious life today to live and to share their faith with a group of women committed to the Church, to Jesus Christ and to Gospel values. They are attracted to group living and they seek honesty and integrity from the women with whom they live. They are attracted to members and communities that have a vitality and vibrancy about their life and mission.

What kinds of congregations attract newer members?

Congregations that attract newer members are generally focused with a clear mission that responds to a vital need in the church and society. This usually is accompanied by a corporate identity and a strong belief in the future. Some congregations, in particular newer foundations, seem to be experiencing an increase of newer members. This would apply to some monastic congregations as well.

Are women entering religious congregations today?

Yes, women are entering religious congregations today, but certainly not in the numbers that they did 40 years ago. The regularity by which congregations receive candidates varies. Some communities receive women on a consistent basis, others on a sporadic basis, and some are not receiving candidates at all.

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