|USA||SURVEY REVEALS GROWTH IN ORDERS' ASSOCIATES|
Associates committed to religious orders in the US now total more than 25,400, with another 2,700 members in formation, according to a survey released recently by the North American Conference of Associates and Religious.
A less extensive survey five years ago recorded 14,500 associates.
The 11,000 increase is "a startling statistic," according to Sister of Charity Ellen R. O'Connell, co-executive director of the conference.
"The message for the church is that lay men and women desire to give a part of their lives to the church and are seeking ways to do this," O'Connell said. "People want to connect. The challenge for religious institutes is to understand the impetus of this group and better integrate it into the living of their missions."
The study, released to conference members at their annual meeting held earlier this month, found differences between men's and women's reasons for affiliating with religious institutes.
Associates in men's communities are attracted by the ministries of the order and a desire to work with vowed members, in addition to a desire for community. In institutes of women religious, associates are more attracted by a desire for deeper spirituality, especially the spirituality, or charism, of the community.
|31 May 00|