The following comes from EWTN News:
For the fourth straight year, a new survey reports that most vocation directors have seen an increase in vocation inquiries.
The survey, sponsored by VISION Vocation Guide, was conducted from Aug. 30 to Sept. 23. It received responses from 431 vocation inquirers and 175 vocation directors.
About 61 percent of vocation directors reported an increase in inquiries. The Year for Priests, Pope Benedict’s call for atonement for the failings of the Church, and the canonization of a particular saint are believed to have had a positive impact on vocations.
Responses for vocation inquirers were drawn from a pool of those with completed profiles in VISION’s online Vocation Match or community search services. The majority are under 40 and are very serious about choosing religious life. Eighteen percent said they plan to enter a religious community in the next year.
About 74 percent of responding inquirers said the opportunity to live a life of faithfulness to the Church and her teachings is the most essential reason they are attracted to religious life. They also said they are drawn by a community’s prayer life, mission and communal living, as well as justice and peace outreach.
Devotional prayer is of particular interest to those under 40, Vision VocationMatch.com reports. Nearly 84 percent of respondents said prayer was the most essential element in deciding about religious life. The majority also deemed essential spiritual direction, knowledge of what order would be a good fit for them, and opportunities to experience community life.
Vocation inquirers said they thought living with others not their age was the least challenging aspect of religious life, while the discipline of prayer was the most difficult.
Personal contact was deemed to be the most essential resource to learn about vocations, while retreats and teachers were considered important as well. All respondents, even the youngest, preferred an e-mail or a telephone call from vocation directors, despite high usage of Facebook and text messages among inquirers.
One woman spoke of her meeting with religious sisters, saying “it surprises me how much fun that they have.”
Another man said he at first thought there were fewer people looking into religious life, “but now I have met a lot of people finding their place within the church and many of these people are young.”
Some respondents expressed fears of missing family members, choosing the wrong community, or not knowing their future. With almost 32 percent of respondents being over 50, another fear was not being accepted into religious life because of age.
For their part, vocation directors expressed concern about the older age of some inquirers and the lack of basic faith knowledge among many inquirers.
While scandals in the past year include more charges of negligence in responding to sex abuse, including a media campaign attempting to link Pope Benedict XVI to the failures, executive editor of VISION Vocation Guide and VocationMatch.com Patrice Tuohy suggested these factors did not affect vocations.
"The fact that church events have little impact on a person's exploration of a religious life says a lot about the depth and seriousness of the call," he commented.