Religious life is vitally necessary to the Catholic church today. But it will exist in new and varied forms which speak to the spiritual hungers of different societies, ethnic cultures, and generations. God’s Call Is Everywhere is the first comparative analysis of research in six countries investigating women who have entered vowed religious life in Catholicism in the twenty-first century. The data include survey responses from institute leaders, formation directors, and the women themselves, conducted in the United States, Canada, Australia, and France, along with focus groups and interviews in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and France. Through a careful summary of these studies and comparing differences, readers of this book will have a better understanding of the hopes and concerns of those discerning a vocation to religious life and learn how to move forward in the future.
God’s Call Is Everywhere includes six major points of comparison:
The analysis is followed by six reflective essays, two of which discuss the implications of the findings for future vocational discernment programs and four of which compare the findings to religious life in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Patricia Wittberg, SC, is a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati, Ohio. She holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Chicago, is emeritus professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and is currently a research associate with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). She is particularly interested in generational continuity and change among Catholics. Her academic research focuses on the sociology of religion, community, and church and nonprofit organizations. She is the author of numerous books and articles on Catholicism and Catholic religious life, most recently chapters in Migration for Mission: International Catholic Sisters in the United States, (Oxford University Press, 2019) and Faith and Spiritual Life of Young Adult Catholics in a Rising Hispanic Church (Liturgical Press, 2022).
Mary L. Gautier retired in 2019 as senior research associate at CARA, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, a position she held for twenty-one years. Mary holds an MA and PhD in sociology from Louisiana State University. Before coming to CARA, Mary taught sociology at Louisiana State University and at Texas Christian University and served as a lay pastoral associate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for six years. At CARA, Mary specialized in Catholic demographic trends in the United States, managed CARA databases, and conducted demographic projects and computer-aided mapping. She also edited The CARA Report, a quarterly research publication, and other CARA publications. She is co-author of twelve books on Catholicism in the United States, most recently Migration for Mission: International Catholic Sisters in the United States (Oxford University Press, 2019). She currently serves on the board of directors for Liturgical Press and for ASEC, the African Sisters Education Collaborative.
Gemma Simmonds, CJ, is a Sister of the Congregation of Jesus. She is a senior research fellow at the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology in Cambridge, UK, where she is director of the Religious Life Institute, teaching Christian spirituality and pastoral theology. An international speaker and lecturer, she is an honorary fellow of Durham University, past president of the Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain and chair of trustees of the ecumenical Community of St. Anselm based at Lambeth Palace, London. She lectured in theology at Heythrop College, University of London, specializing in spiritual direction in the Ignatian tradition and has been a spiritual director and retreat giver for over thirty years. Gemma has been a missionary in Brazil, a chaplain in the Universities of Cambridge and London and a chaplaincy volunteer in Holloway Prison for twenty-five years. She is a regular broadcaster on religious matters on the BBC, Radio Maria England and other radio and television networks. Her most recent publication is Dancing at the Still Point: Retreat Practices for Busy Lives (London, SPCK Publishing, 2021).
Nathalie Becquart, XMCJ, is a Sister of the Xavière Sisters, Missionaries of Jesus Christ in France. She earned her master’s degree from HEC Paris in 1992, with a major in entrepreneurship and studied theology and philosophy at the Centre Sévres of Paris and sociology at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS). Before becoming a sister, she worked as a consultant in marketing and advertising. After entering, she worked in marketing for Paulist Press, was the national coordinator for a scouting program for poor urban youth, director of a university chaplaincy program, and a member of the bishop’s council of the Diocese of Nanterre, France. She played a large role in the preparation for the 2018 Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment in Rome at the Vatican—as speaker, coordinator of the pre-synod, and observer at the synod. She was director of the national office for youth evangelization and vocations at the French Bishops' conference from 2012 to 2018 and was appointed a consultor to the Synod of Bishops of the Catholic Church in 2019. In February 2021, she was appointed by Pope Francis as Undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops and in December 2021 was appointed a member of the Dicastery for Communication. Her most recent book is The Spirit Renews Everything (Paris, Salvator Press, 2020).