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Diversity study released - The NRVC/CARA Study on Incorporating Cultural Diversity in Religious Life

U.S. religious communities are experiencing a subtle disconnect when it comes to welcoming new members who are not from the dominant race and culture. Leaders and vocation ministers tend to be more open to receiving diverse members than are other community members. That is one of several key findings in the 2014 study, “Incorporating Cultural Diversity in Religious Life,” which was released in October 2014 by the National Religious Vocation Conference. On behalf of NRVC the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate surveyed the leaders of all 835 religious institutes in the country, of which 42 percent responded.

NRVC commissioned the study to learn from leaders about the policies and procedures communities use and the experiences they have had with the formation and integration of culturally diverse candidates. The full report on the study is at nrvc.net.

Asked to name what they have done well to integrate culturally diverse new members, leaders reported four steps: 1) having bilingual formation staff; 2) having multicultural formation communities; 3) establishing formation houses in other countries; and 4) educating membership in cultural understanding.

Although the study focused on cultural concerns during formation, given an open-ended question about what their biggest formation concerns are, leaders reported concerns linked to age. New members often lack age-peers, and (with fewer religious still in the workforce) communities have difficulty maintaining a formation staff.

The study was commissioned by NRVC and underwritten by an anonymous grant. The full study can be downloaded or viewed. The two-page summary can be downloaded or viewed.

 

 

 

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