Time magazine has an article in its latest issue on women’s religious orders that are growing. It’s a halfway decent piece, although it has its flaws.
For one thing, it lumps together orders that have loads of young women banging down their doors, with orders that are mainly attracting older “second career” women. More importantly, I think they completely miss the reasons why women are flocking to “particular” orders, that is the reporters make it seem like this is a broad-based resurgence when it is not. Some congregations and orders are still aging rapidly and dying out for lack of new vocations.
One of the biggest omissions, for example, is a description of the charism of the Sisters of Life. For all that they are a centerpiece of the story, the closest we get to their mission is that they “combine contemplation with active ministry to the public.” Actually, they were founded by the late Cardinal John O’Connor as a pro-life ministry to women contemplating abortion, to women who’ve had abortions, and for the “protection and enhancement of the sacredness of every human life.” But then the mainstream media is not allowed to portray pro-lifers in a positive light.
What makes the religious life different? What makes it attractive?