Susan Rose suggested checking out dotcommonweal blog and the recent discussion sparked by a blogger’s comment that "liberal Catholicism" might be implicated in not generating as many vocations as "conservative Catholicism"  (The author was discussing particularly vocations to the the priesthood and religious life, though some interesting side-talk about vocations to married and single life are present as well in the comments.)
As my community has been hosting a potential candidate these past few days, it seemed likely I wouldn’t be able to keep my mouth shut.  So, I commented.  Here are my two cents (and some change) on the topic. 
These are the thoughts of a Catholic sister in a Dominican congregation, and only hers. They reflect experience with a multitude of Catholic young adults and many women’s religious communities.

It seems to me that much of this discussion assumes shared definitions of: liberal, conservative, traditional, progressive, etc. I am all of those things. Some would call me very traditional; some would call me a lefty-pinko-liberal. Both would be accurate to some degree. My religious vocation was nurtured in a Catholic Newman Center which was both liberal and traditional (our priests were Dominicans.) And I entered a rather liberal community which, relatively speaking, is more traditional than some and more liberal than others. What kind of vocation does that make me?

I’m struck by the assumption that larger numbers is somehow more valuable than smaller ones. Recently I had a discussion with a peer-age sister from a supposedly more traditional congregation of Dominican women who for years was delighted because their congregation was getting "lots of vocations." Mine, arguably was getting far fewer. In my congregation, however, retention from first profession to final has been 100 percent for nearly two decades. In hers, quite frankly, not so much.

Analyzing our time, sociologists might caution, is near to impossible. We likely won’t know for decades to come whether this was a fertile time for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

If you compare todays rates of entrance, say, in women’s religious communites, to those of the 40s, 50s, and early 60s (in the US): well one is likely to be discouraged. Compared, however to *most* other periods of history, the rates are fairly consistent. Like anything else, it follows a cycle (as a Catholic I understand this to be the Paschal mystery – and why should it be otherwise)?

And finally, it was/is the post VCII Church which called me back from agnosticism and which nourished my faith and vocation. That I never was given strong roots in a "more traditionalist" church does give me pause and a deep yearning for roots. It is this, in part, that led me to religious life. It is this that is fed by my "liberal" community.

Just some thoughts.

Advertisements