February 7, 2011


WASHINGTON — Women entering religious orders in the United States today are highly educated and active in parish ministries, according to a new survey.

The Profession Class of 2010: Survey of Women Religious Professing Perpetual Vows was conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate and commissioned by the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.

Respondents represented 52 religious orders. Of the 79 sisters contacted for the survey, 68 responded, according to a news release from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The 2010 class of women religious was more diverse by race and ethnicity than the U.S. population of women religious in general.

Among other findings:

  • The average age for these new women religious is 43.
  • Eighty-seven per cent of the sisters were born Catholic and eight in 10 came from families where both parents are Catholic.
  • More than 25 per cent earned a graduate degree before entering their religious institute. Nearly six in 10 entered religious life with at least a bachelor's degree.
  • Most women religious were active in parish life before entering their religious institute. Eighty-five per cent had ministry experience before entering their religious institute, most commonly in liturgical ministry, faith formation or social service.
  • Nine in 10 women religious said they were encouraged to consider religious life by someone in their life.
  • Two-thirds of respondents said they were discouraged from considering a vocation — most often by parents or family members.