For as long as I can remember, the Catholic church has been praying for “an increase in vocations.” As a millennial who attended public school, I never interacted with a sister or priest (outside of Sunday Mass) until college. I never knew a time when convents and seminaries were overflowing. So, I have always been under the impression that we have a priest shortage or vocational crisis in our church.
When I became a vocational coordinator, I was surprised to find that the statistics for those entering religious life proclaim good news. According to CARA (Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate), 2018 saw the highest number of men and women making perpetual profession (240) since CARA’s analysis began in 2011! For the third year in a row, there have been over 200 men and women making final vows.
What does this mean? The number of religious vocations is growing! In fact, in less than 10 years, the number of perpetually professed has almost doubled!
Why am I sharing this?
First, I believe good news is worth sharing! Given the state of our church and culture, it is even more important to highlight the beautiful things in our faith. Even when the media headlines say “The Church is in Crisis,” more young people are making a permanent commitment to serve God in the church with a religious community. Their commitment proves the Catholic faith remains relevant and the church is alive.
Second, I share this good news about vocations with you because I believe our prayers are working! Since the church continues to intentionally pray and work for vocations, God has answered those prayers! Religious life has never been for the masses; it has always been a unique vocation reserved for those whom God calls. The process to enter religious life has become more selective as well, taking into consideration age, student debt, medical exams and a myriad of other information. Even given these circumstances, there continues to be a rise in the number of people entering religious life!
Like many, I would love to see the number of professions increase even more. I would love my schedule to be full of meetings with young women interested in discerning life as a Sister of the Precious Blood. But I’ve also wrestled with how to pray for this. I do not want just any woman to join the community. After all, a woman who is not genuinely called by God will not be happy, nor will the community, if she were to enter. I also do not want to convince a woman meant for another order to join us. Finding the right community is like finding a spouse — not all personalities fit together well.
So, how do I pray?
I pray that I am at the right place at the right time and that I am open to the Holy Spirit. I pray that God will lead me to the places where young women are and I constantly ask for the grace to guide them in their discernment.
Lately, I’ve also been very bold. I’ve bluntly asked God, “Will you call more women to be Sisters of the Precious Blood? The charism is needed in our world today. I know there are women that can grow the history of the community into new radical love for the future. God, call them! And help me not to screw it up!”
I encourage you: Praise God for the gift of increasing vocations and be bold in your prayer with God. Ask Him to continue to call men and women to religious life, especially within the Sisters of the Precious Blood. Our faith and our statistics prove that God answers prayers!
Story by Jenna Legg