Understanding Religious Vocation in Australia Today

Who is joining religious life these days?

In 2009, the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) in the United States commissioned a survey to answer that question. The findings of this study can be viewed at this link: NRVC – Executive Summary


What would we find if we asked that question in Australia?

In 2014, Catholic Vocations Ministry Australia (CVMA) invited the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Pastoral Research Office (PRO) to carry out a research study of recent vocations to religious life in Australia. The purpose of the study was to help identify successful practices for promoting vocations to religious life and to understand what factors assist in the retention of new members. It was also to study the
characteristics of people who had entered religious life since 2000 and to examine what had attracted them to this way of life, and what they found challenging and rewarding.

The project aimed to answer the following key questions:
1) What are the characteristics of the men and women who have entered religious life (and stayed) since 2000? Why did they enter, and why have they stayed?
2) What are the characteristics, policies and practices of the religious institutes and societies that are attracting and successfully retaining new members?

The study used a mixture of quantitative and qualitative research methods to address the key questions. Data collection was carried out by means of surveys of congregational leaders (Leaders’ Survey) and of people who had entered religious life since 2000 (New Members’ Survey), interviews with leaders of congregations that have successfully recruited and retained new members since 2000, and focus groups with new members of congregations.

The Final Report of this study can be viewed at this link CVMA Report – Final report 

Report details: Robert Dixon, Ruth Webber, Stephen Reid, Richard Rymarz, Julie Martin and Noel Connolly, Understanding Religious Vocation in Australia Today:Report of a Study of Vocations to Religious Life 2000-2015 (Canberra: Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, February 2018).