The results are divided into the following three subsections:

  • 1. The social background of the members of religious orders.
  • 2. The realities faced by religious communities today and in their evolution in the last 30 years.
  • 3. Changes in the generations in governance and difficulties according to the topics.

Social background of the members of religious orders

The social background of the members examined some of the following main characteristics:

  • 1. Where were they from?
  • 2. Vocational choice and religiousness, family support.

Where were they from?

The following characteristics were examined: family background, educational level, religiosity, family acceptance of religious vocation and entry motivation. As with all cohabitation, in marriage, for example, but also in the religious community, learning how to live alongside those of a different background is a major challenge. A religious community is a multi-actor community where every member joins as an adult, bringing from home his or her habits and values; even in a hierarchical community with a strictly regulated community life, each member contributes something to the life of the community and its members during its formation. The values, habits and lifestyle of newcomers are determined by the home setting, the parents’ level of education and religiosity, the size of the family and their own educational level and age of entry. Therefore, their socio-demographic characteristics are important.

Types of settlement

In line with previous observations, in the 1997 survey, 50 per cent of male members over 60 years old and almost 60 per cent of female members from the same age group came from less developed cities, towns and villages, while only about one-fifth of male members and slightly more than one- tenth of females came from Budapest, the capital. According to the same survey, the proportion of members between the ages of 18 and 40 reversed.

That is, in 1997, only one-fifth of males between the ages of 18 and 40 and less than one-tenth of females came from villages, while nearly half of the young male and nearly one-third of females came from Budapest. However, in the 2012 survey, just over a fifth of the responding males aged 18-40 years and less than a quarter of the females came from Budapest (Figure 8.1).

It should be borne in mind that while there are socio-economic disadvantages to smaller settlements, there are some advantages to rural life one of which may be the greater presence of religiosity and the smaller communities’ stronger communal pow'er. This may also be an amplifying factor in personal religious vocation if young people are more likely to encounter traditional religiosity in villages and where strong practices of religiosity are partly due to the pressure emanating from community control.

Parents' educational level

In the 2012 survey, parents’ educational levels were significantly higher than in 1997 compared to the parents of male and female religious of the appropriate age, with approximately 45 per cent of fathers and 42.5 per cent of mothers completing college or university. This proportion is significantly above the social average within the generations of parents of the appropriate age (see Figure 8.2). This is important because of handed-on cultural capital.

Male and female respondents by place of birth. 1997 and 2012

Figure 8.1 Male and female respondents by place of birth. 1997 and 2012.

Note-. 60 years old or older, N = 294; 18-40 years old, N = 160; in 2012, 18 40 years old, N = 106.

Educational level of respondents’ parents, 1997 and 2012

Figure 8.2 Educational level of respondents’ parents, 1997 and 2012.

Note: Educational level of respondents’ parents in 1997. 18 40 years old, N = 160; 2012 (18^10 years old, N = 106).

This change in the type of settlement and the large shift in parents’ educational attainment raises the question of whether occupational choice has now become truly independent of inferior social status. The education level of the entry cohort also seems to confirm that entering into religious life or choosing a religious career does not stem from the desire for increased social mobility.

In both of our sociological surveys, there is a marked difference in the educational attainment of 18-29-year-olds compared to the national youth survey of 18-29-year-olds in 2008. Specifically, while only 15.4 per cent of 18-29-year-olds in the national sample completed their studies, 31 and 39 per cent of those of the appropriate age in the 1997 and 2012 surveys had college or university degrees.

Religious' educational level

It also follows that members do not necessarily enter the monastery at the age of 18, while the majority are still 18-19, about one-third of those who enter the religious order begin their religious life at the age between 20 and 25 years in both male and female orders, according to the database from 1997 and also from 2012. Beginning a religious life over the age of 30 is much less common among young members of both male and female orders. During life in religious orders, younger entrants may acquire higher education, and frequently those with degrees complete postgraduate studies. In training a new generation of members, a thorough and varied preparation is emphasised for those embarking on lives of future service.

This explains why, for example, 85 per cent of 18^W-year-old members who completed the research questionnaire in 2012 had college or university degrees. The question may arise as to what extent such a high rate of college or university education among male and female religious is due to the fact that a theological degree is essential for the priestly profession. However, data from both the 1997 and 2012 surveys show that far more 18 40-yea r- old female religious have degrees from college or university than male religious have in the same age group whether at point of entry or later (Figure 8.3).

Out of this age group, 18-29-year-olds are highlighted for comparative purposes; the proportion of graduates is over 60 per cent, while only 15.4 per cent of the appropriate age group report that they are graduates in national youth research. However, according to data of from a 2011 census of a similar age group (20-29 years old), 21.3 per cent are graduates from college or university. The increased tendency of graduation in college or university within society shows that this difference between members of religious orders and lay people is gradually reducing. Knowledge brought from home and acquired as capital in the social space presupposes a set of problemsolving skills that enrich those members significantly more than those in society for whom learning was less important (Figure 8.4).

In spite of the evidence from my own two studies, the data now available to us raise further questions. We need to investigate the extent to which career choices today have a real relationship with socio-economic status and what motivations lie behind the acceptance of vocation.

Respondents’ educational level by sex at point of entry and date of surveys, 1997 and 2012

Figure 8.3 Respondents’ educational level by sex at point of entry and date of surveys, 1997 and 2012.

Note: N = 160; 2012, N = 106.

Respondents’ educational level at point of entry and date of surveys, 1997 and 2012

Figure 8.4 Respondents’ educational level at point of entry and date of surveys, 1997 and 2012.

Note'. 1997, N = 160; 2012, N = 106 and of the 18-29-year-old population in National Youth Survey at 2008, N = 6,552.

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