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America’s nun population in steep decline

A 2018 and 2019 Pew Research Center survey found that the number of Americans who identify as Christians has dropped 12% over the past decade. The group who described themselves as Catholic, in particular, has also shrunk, leaving a crisis in the Catholic sisterhood. Nuns are growing older and there is a concern that there will be fewer young people looking to join the sisterhood.

According to a recent study, less than 1% of nuns in America are under 40 and the average sister is 80 years old.

Sister Joanne Persch just turned 88. She said that many of her friends who joined her in service in the early 1950s have died. Throughout the painful pandemic and societal upheaval, she said there is still a great need for nuns in America.

In 2022, there were reportedly fewer than 42,000 nuns in America, which is a 76% decline over 50 years. At the rate sisters are disappearing, one estimate said that there will be fewer than 1,000 nuns left in the United States by 2042, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.

Sister Kelly Williams is working toward becoming one of the few nuns still left in the life. She is 34 years old and started her journey nine years ago. She said people are often surprised that she is so “normal.”

Williams and her roommates said that young people today are resistant to the structure of religious life and many have been put off by the scandals of the Catholic Church, which they struggle to work past themselves. They said that they pray every day for their future as a sisterhood and ask for strength that more young women will answer the call.


ABC News
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