Vocational choice and religiosity, family support

Formerly, priests and monks came from large numbers of families with many children (Tomka and Revay 1998). Even today, the majority of young members of religious orders come from families with multiple children (Revay 2014a). The proportion of only children was 4.4 per cent of young male and 7.9 per cent of female members in the 1997 survey, and 14.5 per cent of male members and 13.8 per cent of female members in the 2012 survey. Those who had one brother or sister were slightly fewer among respondents in 2012. Namely, 35.5 per cent of male and 37.9 per cent of female respondents had one brother or sister while in the 1997 survey, 46.7 per cent of male and 41.2 per cent of female religious had one brother or sister. Those who had two or more brothers or sisters show roughly the same proportion, that is, about 50 per cent of all young members. In 2012, exactly 50 per cent of male members and 48.2 per cent of female members had two or more siblings, while in 1997, 48.9 per cent of male and 50.5 per cent of female members had two or more siblings. The change in numbers of siblings relative to 1997 data has shifted towards the only child. The effect of this on community life and integration into community is well known among superiors. Entrants who have grown up with siblings from early childhood adapt well to community life. Those who have grown up without siblings often learn fraternity only upon entry to the religious community, which is itself a new challenge for that community.

Parental religiosity

The parents’ religiosity, the spiritual milieu and the patterns of practising religiosity are also important factors in the choice of a religious life or career. Research participants’ responses about parental religiosity supported the generally known phenomena of shift in religiosity and church affiliation. In the 1997 survey, two-thirds of older respondents had a father and 85 per cent a mother who was religious according to the teaching of the Church - according to the sociological terms of Miklos Tomka. Tomka’s categories refer to self-identification of religiosity: religious according to the teaching of the Church: religious in his or her way; uncertain; not religious; definitely other conviction, not religious (Tomka 1991). In the same survey, for members between the ages of 18 and 40, only 30 per cent of fathers, and about half of mothers were religious according to the teaching of the Church, and that rate did not alter in 2012. Ecclesiastical religiosity implies a stronger church attachment, a closer adherence to norms and patterns and often more traditional religious practices and values. ‘Religious in their own way’ does not deny or question the subject of religiosity or belief but is accompanied by a rejection or at least a questioning of the institution of the Church. In this type of religiosity, it is common to select elements of religious practice and religious content from a variety of different religions. However common this phenomenon is for those ‘religious in their own way’, their children sought a religious way of life, and upon entry, they became obedient to hierarchical institutions operating within a hierarchically organised church (Figure 8.5).

Family acceptance of religious vocation

Entry into religious orders was generally accepted by the family, even though parents were not happy with the decision of a person of a younger age; however, they were not opposed or hindered by the majority. Opposition from the family occurred about in one quarter (25 per cent) of female and one-tenth (10.8 per cent) of male members according to data from 2012, and 14.3 per cent of male and 25.7 per cent of female members in 1997. Men were more likely to receive explicit support from home. About a quarter (25.7 per cent) of the male members said that family were happy with and supportive of their career choices, while only 14.2 per cent of women could say the same in 2012. However, in 1997 the difference in family support of religious career was less between male (26.2 per cent) and female (25.7 per cent) religious.

Parental religiosity of male and female respondents, 1997 and 2012. Note

Figure 8.5 Parental religiosity of male and female respondents, 1997 and 2012. Note: N = 160 and 2012, N = 106.

Parents’ religiosity has an impact on the later generation’s religious practice and church affiliation. In both surveys, the majority of responding young members attended church at least weekly at age 12, but a quarter of respondents (26.7 per cent) in 1997 and one-fifth (19.8 per cent) in 2012 had never, or only occasionally, attended church. In addition to church attendance, participation in class of religious study and spiritual retreat is also a decisive factor. Religion studies were important not only because of a broadening and deepening of knowledge, but because the religious group as a community and as a contemporary group integrates the person into religious life and it has educational effect as well. A religious peer group provides opportunities for meeting, learning and growing together on multiple levels which is particularly important for young people who grow up without siblings or in a non-religious family. In 1997, 84.4 per cent of respondents participated regularly in religious studies. In 2012, the number rose to 88.6 per cent. Respondents who remembered never or having only occasionally attended church at the age of 12, attended to religion classes only as preparation for first communion or for confirmation. They did not attend regular, year-round religion classes, and were therefore less represented in the group. In the research from 1997, 83.8 per cent of members aged 18-40 years participated in a spiritual retreat before entering orders. In 2012, the research data indicate that the number increased to 91.4 per cent.

The ideas and knowledge gained from home and from personal experience was reflected in the acceptance of vocation, or in other words, the choice of a religious life and career, pre-entry expectations and a welcoming of reality.

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