Research Executive Summary: Future of Religious Orders in the United States

Nygren, David, and Miriam Ukeritis. "Research Executive Summary: Future of Religious Orders in the United States." Origins 22, no. 15 (September 24, 1992): 257-72.

Noting that the members of religious communities are declining in number, increasing in average age, and often questioning their mission, Nygren and Ukeritis ask the following questions: How do individual religious and congregations, considered as a whole, experience and understand the changes that have taken place in religious life? What do these changes portend for the future of religious life? Most important, what changes must yet occur if religious life is to remain a vital gift to the church into the next millennium? Their study contributes to the literature on the post-Vatican II transformation of religious life by examining changes in how religious orders understand their mission on three levels: as social institutions, as congregations, and as individuals committed to religious life. The research consisted of a national survey, a leadership study, visioning groups, a study of outstanding religious, and individual interviews. Section three of the report contains a detailed description of the methodology of the various studies and the insights they generated. In the final section of the executive summary Nygren and Ukeritis conclude that, "Fidelity to the spirit of the founder and responsiveness to critical and unmet human needs are basic to the ongoing mission of religious communities." They present a call to action for religious communities by identifying eight issues that must be addressed if religious communities are to respond effectively to the challenges of the twenty-first century.