Stevie Martin | Staff Writer | Thursday, 23 April 2015

Women Becoming Nuns In England And Wales Hits 25 Year High - Fancy It?

Women Becoming Nuns In England And Wales Hits 25 Year High - Fancy It?

The Debrief: Why are more and more women joining the Church?

The Catholic Church has released figures showing that the number of women becoming nuns has trebled since 2009 and has hit a 25-year high, with 45 women joining convents last year.

In 2009, only 15 new nuns were registered, so 2009 was a bad year for nunning. Actually, it’s been declining every since the 1980s – 2004 was an even worse year for nunneries, as only seven nuns joined convents. 

Why the resurgence? Well, the Church suggests that there’s a ‘gap in the market for meaning in our culture’ at the moment, which is why more and more women are joining.

‘We are never going to be at the place we were at 50 years ago, when Catholic culture was at a very different place,’ said Sister Cathy Jones from the National Office of Vocation. ‘But the fact that more women are becoming nuns than there has been in the past 25 years shows that as a generation we have turned a corner.’

She added that perhaps women are driven to take the oath after having seen a lot of poverty in the UK in the wake of the economic downturn. ‘It doesn’t tend to be those who are coming from quite vulnerable places who become nuns, but there are people who want to be reaching out to those on the margins, who join.’

While nuns are less visible in communities, according to Sister Cathy, they’re doing a lot more hidden work with trafficked women or working as counsellors. 

It also frees women from the pressure of having to join the rat race, 29-year-old former researcher at Edinburgh Universty and current nun Theodora Hawksley told the BBC.

‘I don’t have to worry now about practical things like making a career for myself. I’m free to go where I’m needed and meet people at the margins. You’re not on your own. It’s an unusual life choice, but you’re not the only one making it. There are plenty of people asking themselves the same questions,’ she said.

But then again, you can’t have sex. Which is a real downside. Insert some sort of joke about breaking a habit. 

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