Religious Orders

The New Secular Puritan Covenant

Thanksgiving brings back memories for Americans of the Pilgrims and Puritans, carrying out their “errand into the wilderness” to build a “city on a hill,” surviving that first bleak Massachusetts winter of 1620-21. As a kid, I remember that cutting out Puritan hats from black construction paper and taping them to the school windows was [...]

“Oh, No! You Want to be a Nun?”

I am in the unusual position—for this century, anyway—of being the mother of a young woman who has seen four of her friends enter a convent in the past two years. Three of those women are postulants in cloistered Carmelite convents. Elizabeth has celebrated more wedding showers for brides of Christ than for brides of [...]

Post Mortem of a Religious Order

First, a little statement in the interest of complete transparency: This article touches on the issue of fracking for oil and natural gas. I freely acknowledge that I am very “pro-fracking” and have family members in Oklahoma who work in the industry. The practice has been around since the 1940s, and when done properly, it [...]

Whose Money Is It, Anyway?

“He had been a very charitable priest: in his will he had left all his money to institutions and the furniture of his house to his sister.”   ∼ “Araby,” James Joyce My junior-year high school English teacher used to use the above quote to show how snarky and snide James Joyce was being towards the priesthood: [...]

The Latest Vatican Critique of U.S. Nuns

Her hands were impossibly clean. Her habit smelled of sunshine. Sr. Cyrena Harkins, RSM was the principal of St. Richard’s School and the sculptor of my early Catholic formation. When our baby brother was badly burned, the sisters at St. Dominic’s hospital nursed him back to health. Later, in another state, the Dominican Sisters of [...]

Sacrificing Religious Life: A Reply to Critics

In my December 31, 2013 Crisis article, Sacrificing Religious Life on the Altar of Egalitarianism, I argued that the decimation of American religious orders is partly self-inflicted.  Vocations directors, counselors, and authors make two mistakes: 1) they treat life in the world and the religious life as if they were equally effective means to growth [...]

Sacrificing Religious Life on the Altar of Egalitarianism

Young Catholics are spurning religious life.  According to the Official Catholic Directory, there were only 1,853 seminarians studying for American religious orders in 2011.  That’s less than half the number of religious seminarians that were studying in 1980 (4,674), and less than one tenth the number that were studying in 1965 (22,230), according to Kenneth [...]

Women’s Religious Orders

The Vatican recently initiated a major reform of women’s religious in America. Particularly targeted was the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) which represents about 80 percent of the country's 57,000 women religious. The reform comes in light of a hardened defiance against Catholic morality in areas of family life and human sexuality and is [...]

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