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Currently, the United States has slightly over 44,000 women religious and at least 4,000 international sisters. The name “international women religious” refers to two categories of sisters. First, there are women religious who have joined a U.S. religious institute after coming from abroad. The second category covers women religious who joined a religious institute outside the United States before arriving. This Special Report presents characteristics of international women religious in the United States over the last 20–30 years: their ages, where they come from, their ministries, vocations, and formation in the United States, and their reasons for coming.
Ministry can be challenging for “new” women and men in religious life in the ten years following their final profession. By and large they have completed the formation programs of their respective religious institutes and are engaged in full-time ministry. Once in ministry, are there additional educational and pastoral training resources that they need? What supports might aid them to truly thrive in their service to God’s people? The Catholic Theological Union,with generous funding from the Lilly Endowment, engaged CARA to research the ministry-related needs of new men and women religious and lay ecclesial ministers. CARA investigates these questions through surveys and focus groups.
How well do Catholic high schools help students reconcile their knowledge of their faith and science? In 2017 and 2018, CARA conducted a survey of all Catholic high schools in the United States. Each school received three surveys, to be completed by the principal, one religion teacher, and one science teacher (selected by the principal). This special report details the findings from this study, which was funded by the John Templeton Foundation.
In 2018, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) examined data on women religious in Latin America to develop a deeper understanding of the trends affecting the status of religious sisters in this region. Doing so adds another dimension to the overall understanding of women’s religious life in the region and indicates certain areas of growth that may defy conventional assumptions about the trends in religious life.
Africa is one of only two continents (the other is Asia) where vocations to religious life among Catholic women is growing rather than declining. This special report shows how the different countries of the continent are experiencing very different rates of growth and decline as well as documenting the varied ways African sisters are ministering.
Disabilities in Parishes Across the United States: How Parishes in the United States Accommodate and Serve People with Disabilities by Jonathon Holland, MA, Patrick Gilger, S.J., and Thomas P. Gaunt, S.J.
In this special report we identify various aspects of the college experience that the respondents tell us were important in their vocational discernment. We find that there are many distinct differences between those who attended Catholic colleges and universities and those who attended other campuses.
CARA has completed a longitudinal study of women religious in the United States drawing on data reported by the religious institutes of women listed in the Official Catholic Directory. The contributions of women religious in the United States continue to be evident today in Catholic institutions of education and healthcare across the country, but there are, and have been, countless other contributions as well. Over the years, these valiant women have adapted to changing circumstances and forged ahead despite challenges to their way of life and ministry. The U.S. Catholic Church is indebted to the ministerial efforts and sacrifices made by women religious in the past and present. This CARA Special Report is an effort to disentangle the story of women religious in the United States that is hidden in the numbers.
The research on volunteer alumni suggests that volunteering for a year of service in a faith-based volunteer service organization may be an important step in a young adult’s discernment process. This is evidenced by the majority of the men volunteer alumni and one-third of the women volunteer alumni who have considered a religious vocation. Current and former volunteers may well be the most likely and identifiable group of potential vocations to priesthood and religious life.
The Catholic population in the United States has changed dramatically in the last 50 years and parish life is transforming as well. The Church is becoming more ethnically and racially diverse, traditional centers of Catholic population are shifting, and the people in the pews have different expectations. These changes, coupled with a decrease in Mass attendance, are evident in many American parishes. What are the characteristics of parish life in the United States today?
A comprehensive nationwide survey of diocesan priests and their attitudes about retirement. The study was commissioned by the Laity in Support of Retired Priests, Inc. (LSRP). The study includes diocesan priests, both active and retired. It assess their knowledge, perceptions, experiences, needs, and concerns about retirement from active ministry.
NCEA commissioned CARA to conduct this research to obtain a comprehensive picture of the present status of U.S. Catholic elementary schools. The research substantiates that there is clearly a demand for the schools: parents whose children are enrolled are generally pleased with the school and quality religious education was ranked first in importance by parents when choosing a Catholic school. Demographic shifts—“people moved and the schools didn’t”—have proven to be the most critical reason for enrollment losses and school closures
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