CARA Study

CARA Logo Cross in the middle of 6 circlesIn spring 2015 the North American Conference of Associates and Religious (NACAR) commissioned the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) to update and extend a study CARA conducted in 2000 of the associate relationship in religious institutes in the United States and Canada (the year 2000 report is still available for purchase here). The project was designed by CARA in collaboration with NACAR and consisted of a survey for leadership of associates in religious institutes and a survey of the associates and vowed members of those institutes.

CARA Study Introduction

This report presents findings from the first survey, the survey of directors/coordinators of associates in religious institutes of the United States and Canada. CARA and NACAR designed a questionnaire based on the one used in the 2000 study, but extended to include more questions about key issues, such as the impact of associates on the mission and ministries of religious institutes, the structure of the associate relationship to the institute, and the future needs and challenges of this relationship. CARA programmed the survey into an online format, translated it into French and hosted it on the CARA website.

To distribute the survey, CARA contacted the major superiors of all religious institutes that belong to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR) (these are the two leadership conferences of women religious in the United States), the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM), and the Canadian Religious Conference (CRC) by mail with a copy of the questionnaire for associate directors/coordinators and instructions for completing the survey online. Each major superior was asked to forward the request to the director/coordinator of associates in the institute so they could complete the survey. If the institute does not have associates, the major superior was asked to respond to the first three questions of the survey, indicating they do not have associates, and return the survey to CARA.

After repeated follow-ups, CARA received a response from 588 of 918 major superiors and associate directors/coordinators for an overall response rate of 64 percent. In all, 378 institutes (67 percent of all responding institutes) indicated they have associates and completed the full survey.

With Grateful Hearts

We are extremely grateful to the following who have donated towards funding of the CARA study:


SC Ministry Foundation
Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati and Associates
Congregation of the Passion
Midwest Kindred Spirits Members
Wheaton Franciscan Sisters Corporation
Dominican Sisters of Peace
Society of the Holy Child Jesus
Congrégation de Notre Dame, Visitation Province
Inter-Congregational Associate Directors
Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary
Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate
Tri-State Conference of Associate Leadership


Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur
Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities
Felician Sisters of North America
Associate Community of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ
Kathy Herrington
Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Bay Area Conference of Associates and Religious, Inc.
Servants of Mary
Daughters of the Holy Spirit
Sisters of St. Francis
Daughters of the Holy Spirit Associates

© 2019 North American Conference of Associates and Religious.

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