Is is true that the more traditional and conservative orders of women religious, those who make up the membership of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR), are thriving, while the orders who make up the membership of the LCWR, are seeing their numbers decline,?
Sr. Patricia Wittberg, S.C. co-author of a joint study by the National Religious Vocations Council and CARA, writes “We believe that the church and the U.S. public deserve an accurate picture, devoid of distortions, ideology and fatalism, of the complex demographics of religious institutes. These demographics are among the most serious issues facing religious life throughout the universal church. A discussion of them demands the greatest precision and sensitivity for the sake of the future of individual institutes, each of which has been entrusted by the Holy Spirit with a unique charism and mission, and which prayerfully deals with issues of revitalization in their general chapters and other deliberative bodies.”
According to the study both LCWR and CMSWR orders drawing equal numbers. Still, “The vast majority of both L.C.W.R. and C.M.S.W.R. institutes do not have large numbers of new entrants. Instead of focusing a media spotlight on a few institutes and generalizing inaccurately from them, it is essential to probe what is happening across the entire spectrum of institutes to understand the full complexity of religious life in the United States today.”
Patricia Wittberg, S.C., is one of the two is a professor of sociology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Mary Johnson, S.N.D.deN., is a professor of sociology and religious studies at Emmanuel College in Boston, Mass.