Just over one in 10 (12 percent) of the women in our survey said that they had ever considered becoming a woman religious. Of these women, 38 percent said that they had considered the vocation a little seriously or not seriously at all. Less than half (42 percent) had considered the vocation somewhat seriously, and one-fifth (20 percent) said they had considered the vocation very seriously.
We asked the women who had never considered a vocation to the consecrated life what factors had influenced their thinking—what were the barriers between them and this way of life? The most frequently cited reason was the desire for a different vocation: to be a mother. Over half (56 percent) of the women who had never considered being a woman religious said that the longing for children was “very much” related to their choices.
Women who had never considered being women religious said, “I could do God’s will without becoming a religious sister” (39 percent), “God is not calling me to a religious vocation” (36 percent), and “I’ve just never really thought about it” (36 percent). Additionally, 14 percent of women said that they had never felt invited.
Relatively few women cited the vows of obedience (15 percent) or of poverty (10 percent) as something that had “very much” to do with their not considering consecrated life. The least cited barrier was fear that family would not approve. Only 3 percent of women said this thought held them back from considering vows.
This article is one of four short explorations of the data found in the America Survey, commissioned by America Media and conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. Read the other three here: