The number of people entering religious life in England and Wales has tripled over the last eight years, while, in much of Europe, the decline continues. Mark Greaves identifies four reasons behind the British upswing.
- The Catholic Herald
1. Pope Benedict XVI’s visit
Vocations officials say they owe a lot to Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain in 2010. Sister Cathy Jones, religious life promoter of the British National Office for Vocation, says it strengthened people’s faith and pride at being Catholic. 'People who had been discerning a good number of years thought, "I’ll give this a go",' she says.
2. A culture of vocation
Fr Christopher Jamison, director of the National Office for Vocation, says that, in the early 2000s, 'lots of different people woke up to the same idea' – that is, that everyone had a vocation, whether that’s to be a priest, a religious, a single or married person. 'Vocation' simply means to live out the baptismal call to holiness. A 'culture of vocation' is what Catholic culture ideally should be.
This is the idea that vocations ministry is built on. And it leads directly to numbers three and four…
3. Discernment groups
Discernment groups have sprung up all over the country. These help people decide what their particular path to holiness will be. They come in various forms, from the national Invocation festival to the Compass program, run by religious orders, to local Samuel groups. Many religious orders also run their own 'come and see' weekends, where interested people can get a taste of religious life.
Photo: A Sister makes her final profession