Spring and summer great times in abbeys and great orders because of the ordinations, profession of vows, entrances to the novitiate and the anticipation of such things. God, indeed, provides…God hears our prayers for humble workers in the vineyards. We seek the face of God together, in faith, hope and charity.
For last two years I’ve been compiling a selective list of orders that have received new members and noting which ones had professions of vows because I was awe struck by the fact that some people are still being called to do such. That is to say, I am not struck by the fact that God still calls men and women to accept the gift of religious life but that they actually say ‘yes’ to the Divine Invitation to follow Him.
I was also curious to know which groups, randomly surveyed, got new members. Leading others to Christ is serious business, so I wanted to know how the Church in America might fare in the future with fewer vocations. For example, the tri-provinces of the Eastern Jesuits (the Provinces of Maryland, New England & New York) admitted only 8 for themselves for 2010. To compare numbers, in the New England Province in 1990, 6 men entered the Jesuit society (only 1 remains today) and in 2010 they admitted only 2 men. Dismal numbers given the beauty of the vocation. What would Saint Ignatius of Loyola say?????
Let us note well: Some religious orders or monasteries don’t want anyone to know the facts of professions, entrants or ordinations too readily. This is frustrating because the info should be readily available if a group has a website. There is good reason to believe that many religious are embarrassed by the fact that no one is entering or that with all the money being spent on vocation promotion no one is interested in their way of life as it is lived in that group’s context. Moreover, some orders are not aware of the value of internet technology in today’s era, or are just incapable of find the “right way” to use technology to assist in getting the word out there that life exists in their order or that the charism they’re living is worth living and may be attractive to others.
We should acknowledge the fact that some orders are dying (or are already dead and the membership is refusing to admit that their group is dead) but if God has given the grace to come into existence, to abort the charism/vocation too readily and without taking stock in the factors that have contributed to diminishment and the factors of correctives, is perplexing.
Nothing beats being faithful to some simple facts which encourages a faithful living of the vowed life and makes it attractive to others:
- a common prayer life and personal prayer which includes Mass, the Divine Office, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Lectio Divina, the rosary; a daily hour could be optional but there ought to be a good reason why a religious is not making a holy hour more often than not;
- a common vision for living and serving the gospel in the Catholic Church as it is today, not as the Church “was in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s” or what the Church “should be”; the work done together, whether serving the poor, teaching school, being chaplains needs to cohere to the founding charism, be done together, and with joy in the Risen Lord; serving the gospel and the Church means being faithful to the Church’s teaching authority, which means pastoral authority of the Pope and the bishops;
- a caring fraternal life
- the wearing of a religious habit not only in the house but in public; if you won’t wear the habit in a restaurant or movie theater or any other place, including the airport, then you shouldn’t be there; the wearing of the roman collar for religious orders should be done by exception if there is a legitimate habit available and the lapel pin just doesn’t cut it.
In sum, I’d say that a religious ought to live the virtues we observe in God’s Trinitarian life: be familial/communal with to regard to living, faithfully accepting of another’s differences (the gifts the other brings), maintaining a personal dependence on another realizing that we humans didn’t make ourselves and we really only know ourselves in light the other person, having an attitude for the sharing of resources and the practice of hospitality remembering that we receive guests as though it was Christ Himself knocking on our door.
The fruit of prayer and witness to Christ is seen in the admission of candidates to religious life as postulants, novices, simply and solemnly professed members as well as ordinations. Let me give you a sampling of what I am talking about –this is not a comprehensive list:
The Monastic Life:
Monastero di Bose (Italy) solemnly professed three, 1 monk and 2 nuns.
Saint Emma Monastery (Greensburg, PA) has 1 novice.
Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles (Kansas City-St Joseph, MO) have regular vocations but as to numbers, that is unknown. You would have to wait for their newsletter or call them.
Abbey of St Paul outside the Walls (Rome) simply professed 1 and there are 2 novices.
St Louis Abbey solemnly professed 2 monks, will simply profess 1 and admitted 1 to the postulancy and ordained another to the priesthood in June. Father Bede reports that in the past 13 months there have been a total of 5 solemn professions and D.V. there will be 1 simple profession in November and a solemn profession in January 2011.
St Anselm’s Abbey (Washington, DC) simply professed 1 monk.
Marmion Abbey solemnly professed 1 monk and admitted 2 to the novitiate.
St John’s Abbey 2 monks made solemn vows and 4 simply professed vows; their stories are here; 2 were admitted to the community.
St Vincent’s Archabbey ordained 1 to the priesthood, 5 became novices and 4 professed simple vows. The juniorate has 13 monks.
St Meinrad Archabbey ordained 1 priest and 2 professed solemn vows.
St Benedict’s Abbey (in Kansas) ordained 2 monks, 1 to the order of deacon and another to the priesthood.
St Benedict’s Abbey (in Wisconsin) simply professed 1.
Conception Abbey simply professed 1, solemnly professed 1 and 4 entered the novitiate.
The Monastery of San Benedetto (Norcia, Italy) had 2 monks profess simple vows and 1 profess solemn vows this summer. The community was founded in 1998 in Rome and in 2000 moved Norcia, Italy. The community grows.
Benedictine monasteries worth knowing about, who live the life but don’t publish the numbers of their monasteries with accuracy:
Monastery of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Westfield, VT)
Abbey of Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek (Hulbert, OK)
The Dominican nuns of Summit, NJ, the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary, will simple profess 1 and 1 entered the postulancy. Watch their slide show.
The Carmelite Monks (Cody, WY) had 4 postulants enter, 2 enter the novitiate and a perpetual profession. 2 were ordained to the diaconate.
The Norbertine Canons of the Abbey of Saint Norbert (DePere, WI) admitted 3 the novitiate (2 for St Norbert’s & 1 for the daughter house Santa Maria de la Vid in New Mexico); there is 1 novice in the 2nd year novitiate.
The Norbertine Canons of Daylesford Abbey (Paoli, PA) admitted 1 to the novitiate, there is 1 2nd year novice, 2 others in formation for priesthood.
The Norbertine Canons of the Abbey of Saint Michael (Silverado, CA) 2 professed solemn vows; new postulants were accepted; 1 was ordained a priest and 1 a deacon.
The Missionary Fraternity of St Charles Borromeo educates 40 seminarians in Rome and who ordained 3 as priests on June 26; plus there are houses of formation in Mexico and Chile.
The Conventual Franciscans of the Immaculate Conception Province simply professed 1 friar; 1 made solemn vows.
The Conventual Franciscans of the Province of Our Lady of Consolation received 2 postulants and 1 novice; there was 1 simple profession of vows.
The Capuchin Friars of Saint Mary’s Province simply professed 2 friars, and ordained 1; seven student friars renewed vows; 1 friar ordained deacon; 2 novices received the habit.
The Capuchin Friars of the Province of Our Lady of the Angels admitted 5 to the postulancy.
The Capuchin Friars of the Province of Saint Conrad simply professed 1 friar, 1 novice, 3 postulants and 1 friar ordained deacon.
The Capuchin Province of Saint Joseph 2 novices received the habit.
The Capuchin Friars of the Saint Augustine Province simply professed 1 friar; 7 novices received the habit
The Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal had 3 sisters profess final vows and 5 take the habit.
The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal had 6 friars profess final vows and 10 remain in the novitiate; 4 friars were ordained deacons.
The Franciscan friars of the Holy Name Province finally professed 4 friars and admitted 4 men as postulants; 2 friars ordained deacons.
The Dominicans of the Western Province ordained 5 men to the priesthood, 3 novices took simple vows.
The Dominican friars in Canada had 5 men enter the novitiate.
The Dominican Province of St Joseph ordained 3 to the priesthood, simply professed 8 with 21 men who entered the novitiate.
The Dominican Province of Saint Albert the Great had 10 men enter the novitiate, 3 make simple vows and 2 make solemn vows; 2 friars ordained priests and 1 friar ordained deacon.
The Dominican Missionaries for the Deaf Apostolate perpetually professed 1; 2 are in theological studies preparing for priesthood; the community has 12 members in 2 priories.
The Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus had 4 sisters renew vows; 1 professed perpetual vows and 3 entered the novitiate and 1 entered the second year of novitiate. There are also 4 new pre-postulants.
The Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma had 7 sisters finish the first year novitiate.
The Sisters of St Francis of the Martyr St George (Alton, IL) 21 junior sisters renewed their vows; 4 professed simple vows, 5 entered the postulant program, 3 entered the 1st year novitiate and 2 moved to the 2nd year novitiate.
The Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist simply professed 1 and received 1 into the novitiate joining 4 other sisters; the FSE also received 1 into the postulancy.
The Congregation of St Cecilia, Dominican Sisters of Nashville perpetually professed 5 and simply professed 9; 20 were invested as novices and 26 new postulants entered.
The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist (Ann Arbor, MI) had 8 make their simple profession of vows & 5 made perpetual vows. 11 enter the novitiate and 22 enter the aspirancy. Founded in 1997 the congregation has more than 100 sisters.
The Sisters of Life simply professed 10 and finally professed 1; 7 sisters began the novitiate.