Tags: Religion | england | wales | nuns | vows | catholics | women

Number of British Women Becoming Catholic Nuns at 25-Year High

By    |   Monday, 18 May 2015 01:00 PM

The appeal of the Catholic cloister is resulting in a huge increase in the number of young women in England and Wales who are choosing to follow Shakespeare's advice from Hamlet and "Get thee to a nunnery."

At a quarter-century high rate, 45 women, many under 30, began the process of taking holy orders and becoming Catholic nuns last year, the BBC reports.

The news comes at a time when the number of nuns plunged from a million to 710,000 worldwide between 1973-2013, the BBC states, and the Catholic Church notes that the increase in women joining orders of nuns in England and Wales has been steadily building since a low in 2004 of just seven.

There's no difference whether the nuns-to-be are joining "enclosed" or "contemplative" orders, where sisters spend the majority of their time in prayer, or whether they sign up for "apostolic" orders, where they work outside the convents with the poor or elderly. The number of "enclosed" sisters has increased four-fold and the number of "active" religious sisters has increased nine times, the Church says.

The Rev. Christopher Jamison, a former Abbot of the Benedictine Abbey at Worth, told the BBC, "There is a gap in the market for meaning in our culture. Increasingly, young people find Christian faith filling that meaning gap, and for a smaller number of those, religious life has a tremendous appeal because it leads them to the heart of human life today, to the heart of working for the poor, leading a balanced life and a great conviction that there is more to life."

Theodora Hawksley, a novice nun, told the BBC, "If our society is obsessed with money, sex and power and the games people play with them, then vows of poverty, chastity and obedience represent a profound freedom.

"That's what has drawn me to religious life. It's not a fleeing from the world — it's a finding (of) your place in it."

The church has been reaching out with "Vision Vocation Match," an online tool which allows women contemplating the religious life to discover which religious order would best suit them, and programs to allow interested women to visit and stay at convents to sample the nun's life.

Pope Francis' recent canonization of four new female saints — Mariam Bawardy and Marie Alphonsine Ghattas of Palestine, Jeanne Emilie de Villeneuve of France and Maria Cristina of Italy — also has encouraged women to consider the convent life, the Seattle Times reports.

Sister Jane Livesey, general superior of the Congregation of Jesus, commented in a church release, "It is historically the case that it is religious life that has given women a clear and recognized place in the Church and an opportunity to contribute very fully to the Church’s mission to be at the service of the people of God."

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The appeal of the Catholic cloister is resulting in a huge increase in the number of young women in England and Wales who are choosing to follow Shakespeare's advice from Hamlet and "Get thee to a nunnery."
england, wales, nuns, vows, catholics, women
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2015-00-18
Monday, 18 May 2015 01:00 PM
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