In an American culture that often seems to divide along political lines, stories about new vocations to religious life often seem to follow a similar narrative arc by focusing on the more traditional congregations attracting younger members.
Yet conversations with those engaged in what can be a lengthy discernment process, the men and women charged with guiding them, and church experts suggest a more nuanced and varied picture.
As a 2014 America column focused on women religious states, religious institutes of all kinds continue to attract young adults who bring a variety of backgrounds and aspirations to the table. Perhaps not as readily apparent are the ways that, in seeking to help guide young women and men through a discernment process suitable for a new generation, religious institutions have themselves been altered.
This process of institutional self-assessment and cultural engagement is by no means new.