Do nuns still exist? (How many nuns are there in the world?)

I have always had an interest in learning about nuns. As a theologian, I have taken this interest further into researching nuns. I have a friend whose sister is a nun; sometimes, I go to her to learn a thing or two. During our interactions, I discovered that the nun population is reducing. It prompted me to start a small discussion on my online Christian forum. Given my research and interaction with nuns, I had a lot of input to share with the rest. At the start of the conversation, one of the members raised a question that guided the rest of the discussion, ‘do nuns still exist?’

Yes. Nuns still exist worldwide. However, the number of nuns has notably reduced. The amount of new nuns recruited does not replace the elderly nuns who die or leave the occupation. Also, societal changes contribute to the declining number of nuns worldwide.

I invite you to join me in the article below as we look at nuns. In this discussion, it was essential to highlight the number of nurses worldwide to understand the reasons behind the declining number of nuns worldwide. Also, I have mentioned whether cloistered nuns still exist and whether nuns regret being one. Read on to find out more.

Do many nuns regret becoming nuns?

There is yet to be clarification on whether many nuns regret becoming nuns. Some have come out with claims of regrets, while others are happy with their decision. Therefore, making a general assumption would be incorrect.

Becoming a nun is a voluntary decision, but one may have regrets if one becomes a nun forcefully. One may terminate their nun vocation following the necessary process. Societal changes such as secularism may influence a nun to regret being a nun.

Are nuns declining worldwide?

How many nuns are there in the world?
Are nuns declining worldwide? Image source: Pinterest

The number of nuns worldwide is declining. For instance, reportedly, in the U.S., the number of nuns has reduced since 1965 by 65%. Apart from the United States, other countries such as Great Britain, France, Netherlands, Canada, and Germany are experiencing the same.

Certain factors contribute to the declining number of nuns worldwide. Also, unlike when the nun vocations started, currently, there are societal changes that influence the registration of new nuns.

Are there still cloistered nuns?

Cloistered nuns still exist. However, the number of cloistered nuns has reduced over the years, which may explain why some people think they do not exist. For instance, of the 66,608 sisters in the U.S., 1,402 are cloistered nuns. They spend their lives within the convent, mostly silently contemplating and praying night and day. Cloistered nuns barely interact with the outside world as they take four vows; poverty, obedience, chastity, and enclosure.

How many Catholic sisters are there in the world?

According to an article from the Hilton Foundation, as of February 2023, there are 700,000 sisters worldwide. They are in different stations; 250,000 are in Catholic schools, 20,000 in healthcare facilities, 16,000 in elderly care facilities, and 50,000 in social service organizations.

These facilities and institutions are across the world. Catholic sisters also help in war-torn areas, such as parts of Nigeria, and South Sudan, by offering humanitarian services. They also respond to other disasters like the Covid-19 pandemic, where they were at the forefront of responding and providing care to victims.

Why is the number of nuns declining in the world today?

Do nuns still exist?
Why is the number of nuns declining in the world today? Image source: Pixabay

There are some reasons that contribute to the reduced number of nuns worldwide. One of the main reasons is that few young females are joining the nun vocation. Since a small number is entering the vocation, these numbers fail to replace elderly nuns who pass away or leave the vocation. Hence, it leads to a decline in the nuns’ population.

In an article by the Archdiocese of Baltimore, other factors leading to the decline of sisters include secularism, declining family size, financial challenges, and materialism. According to the article, women have experienced attitude changes about religious life.

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