Once a month, female students pack the cozy chapel at the Holy Spirit Friary that overlooks the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.
These gatherings are confidential, with no one discussing who is or who isn't among the 50 to 60 gathered in the pews. Students come to listen and to pray as they seek discernment about whether to pursue religious vocations — as nuns.
"They keep this private for an interesting reason," said the Rev. Seraphim Beshoner, a history professor. "If word gets out that someone is trying to discern if she has a vocation, then our guys are afraid to date her. I mean, how can you compete with Christ and his church?"
Meanwhile, the campus offers a similar program for young men considering the priesthood. In its 25 years of existence, this Priestly Formation Program has produced about 400 priests for various orders and dioceses and, at the moment, another 40 or more students are taking part.
Many of America's 244 Catholic colleges and universities offer similar programs, of course, in part because of rising concerns about the thinning and graying ranks of priests, brothers, sisters and nuns...[full article
(Source: Report News, "Mattingly: Future nuns, priests have questions as they eye the future")