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Religious Vocations in the West: What can be done to increase vocations among the youth?

The state of the Church varies from one nation to the next, and each reality is usually reflected on the rise or fall of religious vocations.  BROTHER PAUL BEDNARCZYK National Religious Vocation Conference (USA) "So the vocation question is a very complex question and there are no simple solutions.â?  In the U.S for example, 10 percent of the population are former Catholics. Nonetheless, because of immigration, the percentage of Catholics in the country has remained the same. Now the challenge is developing vocational outreach programs within these immigrant communities.  BROTHER PAUL BEDNARCZYK National Religious Vocation Conference (USA) "We have maintained an approximately, 24, 25 percent of our population, but itâ??s the immigrant  population that is feeding our Catholic  population.â?  While there has been a rise in vocations in Africa and Asia, many Western countries have seen a sharp decline, which is what this conference is looking into, especially since it's the Year of Consecrated Life.  Through the Hilton Foundation, it brings together Directors of Religious Vocation Centers in the West: From England, Ireland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, and Figi to Canada and the U.S. PATRICE TUOHY Vision Vocation Guide  "Together we are stronger, together we can come up with some really important solutions and further initiatives.â?  In the U.S. the median age for new female religious is 30. For men it's 28. Ironically, higher education poses another set of challenges. In the last 15 years, about 1,000 people have opted out of religious vocations to work and pay off their college debt, which averages about 28,000 dollars. That doesn't include those who actually discerned from their vocation because of debt.  BROTHER PAUL BEDNARCZYK National Religious Vocation Conference (USA) "We have established now the National Fund for Catholic Religious Vocations, which is to assist religious institutes in accepting members that have educational debt.â?  Amid all the challenges, there is a silver lining. Younger people are showing interest in religious vocation.  PATRICE TUOHY Vision Vocation Guide  "They really are starting to ask  more questions about the Church. How can I serve the Church and God in a much more profound way.â?    This international meeting is looking at ways to attract the youth to a religious life, specifically in Western countries, so that future generations can see a growth in vocations.  KLH  MG VM -PR Up: MPI