Catholic education in high school and especially in college stands out as a significant factor in men and women choosing to enter a religious order, according to an annual survey of Sisters and Brothers who recently professed perpetual vows, according to a new study commissioned by the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.
The survey “New Sisters and Brothers Professing Perpetual Vows in Religious Life,” conducted by the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), confirms the importance of Catholic education.
About four in ten religious (43 percent) attended a Catholic elementary school, about the same as that for all U.S. Catholic adults (42 percent). These respondents, however, are more likely than other U.S. Catholics to have attended a Catholic high school (36 percent of the religious, compared to 22 percent of U.S. adult Catholics overall) and much more likely to have attended a Catholic college (33 percent of the religious, compared to just 7 percent of U.S. adult Catholics overall).
The religious are highly educated. Twenty-two percent earned a graduate degree before entering their order (including 37 percent of brothers and 19 percent of sisters/nuns). Six in ten (60 percent) entered their order with at least a bachelor’s degree or more (58 percent for women and 70 percent for men).
Researchers reportedly surveyed religious who professed perpetual vows in 2012, reaching a total of 108 sisters and 24 brothers, a response rate of 85 percent of the 156 potential members of the Profession Class of 2012 identified to CARA by their religious superior.
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