Here is an interesting article called "Back in the habit, young nuns on the rise" which details such orders as Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and others who are attracting vocations at an increasing rate.
McGlynn is one part of the new blood there that includes a former lawyer and bartender, with an average age of 24. The national median age for nuns is in the 70s, according to CARA.
"There’s time every day to be with God and not having all the distractions that are in the world that keep you from God."
The new nuns say they are looking for an alternative lifestyle in troubled times.
I very much doubt that these new nuns quite phrased their vocation as an "alternative lifestyle in troubled times."
They also mention some orders that are not exactly attracting vocations.
That attitude has helped their order, the Adrian Dominican Sisters in Michigan, attract a handful of new candidates in their 20s and 30s this year.
"We’re not selling ourselves like we’re worried we’re gonna die out," Scott said. "We’re evolving into something else."
Truer words have seldom been spoken and that something else of evolving is something other than Catholic.
Sister Julie Vieira’s popular blog, A Nun’s Life, isn’t meant as a recruiting tool, though plenty of girls and young women visit the site. Vieira, of Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Monroe, Mich., blogs about politics, enjoying a beer at a bar and her favorite bands along with religious content, hoping to dispel sister stereotypes.
She says nuns have to do a better job of marketing themselves.
"It’s very hard to do that sort of thing because you are talking about a personal relationship with God," she said. "And a personal relationship with a community, so it’s a hard thing to advertise."
A Massachusetts order is hoping to appeal to the broader public by restructuring memberships to include roles for married women and those with no formal connection to the congregation.
The Sisters of St. Joseph in Springfield have extended their roles to include associates, agregees, and partners in mission, along with vowed members. Each have varying levels of commitment. Four women are working to become agregees, said Sister Natalie Cain, coordinator of membership and association for the Sisters of St. Joseph.
"We realized we could be creative in ways in how people could be part of who we are," she said.
Of course the last thing they will do is to look at the orders that are growing and why. But faithfulness to the magisterium is not a bullet point they are willing to swallow.
Sister Julie Vieira has appeared on Good Morning America and NPR so that is not exactly a ringing endorsement and she recommends dissident groups like New Ways Ministry when answering questions.
A reader this week sent me a link to a Time Magazine article from 1979 called "The New Nuns" which is quite interesting in a time warp way.
They dress in everything from miniskirts to medieval mantles. They do everything from classroom teaching to police work. One has a job with Cesar Chavez, another with Ralph Nader. There is a deputy attorney general and an Air Force lieutenant. They live in inner-city slums, in posh suburbs, on farms, even in the desert. They come singly, by the dozen and in battalions. They are the new American nuns who, in the decade since the Second Vatican Council first provided the inspiration, have streamed out of their centuries-old enclosures into the modern world.
The most radical of the new nuns have abandoned their orders to form "noncanonical" experimental communities outside the reach of church authority. But they do not consider themselves "ex-nuns." A free-form, geographically dispersed group (32 states, Canada and England) called Sisters for a Christian Community (S.F.C.C.) was founded in 1970 to "experiment and pioneer new forms of religious life for the 21st century." Essential to the undertaking, says Founding Sister Lillanna Kopp of Portland, Ore., is the elimination of the bureaucratic, authoritarian structures that have driven American nuns out of traditional religious orders by the tens of thousands since the Vatican Council closed in 1965. Since that year, the number of U.S. nuns has dropped from 180-000 to 150,000—far more than can be accounted for by normal attrition. "We must be a pilgrim people on the road, unencumbered by luggage," says Sister Kopp, a sociologist and author, who left her order in 1969. "Marble mother houses are what destroyed the old orders."
…the new nuns are confident that they are moving with a historical tide. With secessionist Sister Anita Caspary, they maintain that the church "stands to lose the whole community if it stands in the way."
A reverse prophet if there ever was on. The problem was that many religious order followed that way and whole communities were lost or greatly reduced. Like Chesterton said "only a live thing can swim upstream" and it is certainly dead things that went with the flow of the times. Rather ironically the title of the Time article "The New Nuns" lead to the religious orders chronicled where a New Nun was rarity.