In 2013, DePaul’s Office of Mission & Values (OMV) commissioned a CARA study of “Unaffiliated Lay Vincentians.”
They studied young adults, ages 18-35, who have had a formative experience in the Vincentian mission either as a student or post-graduate volunteer at a Vincentian institution.
Dr. Scott Kelley, assistant vice president for Vincentian Scholarship for OMV, shares the survey’s results & what they mean for the larger Vincentian Family.
As he says at the beginning of the video they welcome feedback as they prepare to enter into the next phase of the study.
Although long it is a video that might be very important for leaders in the Vincentian Family to reflect on.
Here is the executive summary
Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate Georgetown University Washington, DC
Unaffiliated Lay Vincentians’ Informal Engagement with the Vincentian Mission
In winter 2013, DePaul University’s Office of Mission and Values (OMV) commissioned the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University to conduct a survey of “unaffiliated lay Vincentians,” that is young adults between the ages of 18 to 35 who have had a formative experience in the Vincentian mission either as a student or as a post- graduate volunteer at a Vincentian institution. The central purpose of this research is to help OMV explore these unaffiliated lay Vincentians’ understanding of their experiences with the Vincentian mission, their commitment to that mission, and their desire for more formation in the Vincentian charism.
In collaboration with OMV, CARA designed an online survey with 72 closed-ended and four open-ended questions. The survey asked respondents about their past and current engagement with the Vincentian mission, their understanding of the dimensions of the Vincentian mission, the importance they give to Vincentian values, their interest in learning more about the Vincentian charism, their past and current religiosity and spirituality, and their demographic characteristics. Between February 2014 and May 2014, CARA and OMV distributed a link to the survey to a total of 1,737 men and women that OVM identified as unaffiliated lay Vincentians. A total of 351 men and women (or 20 percent of those who had been sent the survey) completed the questionnaire.
Characteristics of Respondents
- Respondents average 28 years of age, with six in ten in their 20s and another one-third in their 30s. More than three-quarters are females. More than a quarter are married, with another two in ten in a committed
- Just over four in ten report having earned a bachelor’s degree, with another half having earned an advanced degree as well. About two in ten report occupations that fit into these two U.S. Census categories: community and social service and education, training and library. Slightly less than two in ten indicate that they are currently
Engagement with the Vincentian Mission
- More than half of respondents first encountered the Vincentian mission during their college years. Another four in ten first encountered it after college. Over half have volunteered in a Vincentian program and another one in five has been or is currently a student at a Vincentian university. Just over one-quarter have both attended a Vincentian university and have volunteered for a Vincentian
- Slightly more than half say they contribute their time to the Vincentian mission or Just under half agree that they contribute financially to the mission or family. Respondents were also asked to indicate their current level of involvement with the Vincentian family in five different categories. Two-thirds report being involved in at least one way, with one-quarter involved in three or more different capacities. More than three in ten indicate being at least “somewhat” involved in the Vincentian family in general; volunteering for a Vincentian group or organization; prayer, faith sharing or formation groups; and financial support of Vincentian ministries. Those of the Post- Vatican II Generation and Catholic respondents are particularly likely to provide financial support.
- More than three-quarters of respondents consider the Lay Vincentian Missionaries at least “somewhat” of a mentor to them in learning about and living out the Vincentian mission. Six in ten consider the Daughters of Charity to be at least “somewhat” of a mentor to them, and just over four in ten consider the members of the Congregation of the Mission and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to be at least “somewhat” of a Catholics are especially likely to consider the Daughters of Charity “very much” a mentor, with other Christians particularly likely to list the Society of St. Vincent de Paul as “very much” a mentor.
Influence of the Vincentian Mission
- Asked to indicate how well their Vincentian program or university communicated eight distinct dimensions of the Vincentian mission to them, unaffiliated lay Vincentians show strong signs of having understood most dimensions of the Vincentian mission. Two- thirds or more indicate that their program or university communicated seven of the eight “very” well. The dimension of service to and solidarity with people who are poor or marginalized was especially well understood, with almost all respondents saying it had been communicated “very”
- When asked to indicate how important those same eight dimensions are in informing their life choices, more than half indicate that five of the eight are “very” important in that way. Respondents say that the dimension of service to and solidarity with people who are poor or marginalized has been especially important in informing their life choices.
- Almost nine in ten agree at least “somewhat” that their relationships with the Vincentian mission has strongly influenced their career life choices. In addition, at least six in ten agree that their Vincentian experiences have influenced the relationship they have with their spouses or partners. Half to three-quarters agree that their spouse or partner shares their values, spiritual beliefs, and religious
Spirituality and Religiosity
- Compared to other adult Catholics in the United States, unaffiliated lay Vincentian respondents are more likely to attend Mass weekly and to have considered a vocation to religious life and/or ordained
- Nearly six in ten report that they pray at least once a day. More than half report attending religious services at least once a week and another quarter attend at least monthly. Those who have volunteered for Vincentian programs in the past and Catholic respondents are particularly likely to report attending religious services at least once a week.
- Almost two-thirds of male respondents have ever considered a vocation to Vincentian religious life, other forms of religious life, or ordained ministry in any faith. Four in ten have considered such a vocation at least “somewhat” seriously. Just over four in ten female respondents say that they have ever considered a vocation to Vincentian religious life, other forms of religious life, or ordained ministry in any faith. More than two in ten have considered it at least “somewhat”
- Three-quarters of respondents were raised in the Catholic faith. More than eight in ten of those who were raised Catholic identify as Catholics currently. One in ten of those raised Catholic now identify as “nothing in particular/atheist/agnostic.”
- Two-thirds of those who say they were raised as Protestant Christians, the second largest group of survey respondents, identify as Protestant Christians today. About one in ten of these respondents currently identifies as a non-denominational Christian and another one in ten identifies as “nothing in particular/atheist/agnostic.”
- When asked to choose which of four categories best describe them, seven in ten respondents report that they are both “religious and spiritual.” Nearly one-quarter identify as “spiritual but not religious,” and one in 20 or fewer identifies as “not religious and not spiritual” or as “religious but not ”
Interest in Further Engagement with the Vincentian Mission
- Nearly three-quarters agree that they would like their relationship with others who share the Vincentian mission to be more formal and ongoing. That was also a frequent topic among respondents to two open-ended questions concerning how the Vincentian family can better address their needs and what respondents would like to see the Vincentian family organize in their
- More than eight in ten would like to be more involved with the Vincentian While Catholic respondents (more than nine in ten) are especially likely to agree that they would like to be more involved, more than six in ten other Christians and those who identify as “nothing in particular/atheist/agnostic” would like to be more involved as well.
- One-quarter to one-third say they are “very” interested in exploring opportunities in their local areas related to the following: community outreach or volunteer programs; organized social activities; outreach for youth and children; and prayer, faith sharing or formation groups. Non-Catholic Christians are especially interested in more opportunities for outreach for youth and children.
- A St. Vincent de Paul Society, Vincentian priests or brothers, and/or the Daughters of Charity/Sisters of the Vincentian tradition are within a 45-minute drive of more than half of respondents’
- Respondents were asked to indicate their interest in possible Vincentian resources and opportunities for projects. Nearly half report being “very” interested in resources about social justice and systemic change, resources about effective methods of service, and opportunities for short-term mission