When asked what they find most challenging about the future of the associate-religious relationship for their religious institute, the 2016 CARA Report shows that many associates, vowed religious and directors/coordinators of associates said that the age of the associates and vowed religious is their greatest concern.
Yet the perspective on age varies. While some vowed women and associates see the aging and diminishment in numbers as a challenge, others see it as an opportunity. As one respondent of the Report said, “Our community has burgeoned with new energy, faith, prayer, spirituality and good works because of our associate relationship. There is a sense of growth and energy, even as we age and diminish in numbers.”
The associate population has grown significantly since the 2000 CARA Report. We know, however, that we are facing a future of unknowns in the continuation of religious institutes and those unknowns lead us to wonder how we might support the future.
The purpose of this chapter is to provide a process of reflection to prepare us to invite others to the associate relationship.
• How might we assure that the charism of religious institutions continues?
• What today continues to attract individuals to the associate relationship?
• How might each of us become attractors, inviting others to live in association?
This section of the leadership manual addresses these questions. It provides a brief background of the associate relationship and addresses the challenge and opportunity to invite others to association. Then it offers suggestions on how to invite others to the associate-religious relationship, followed by reflection questions to help advance thought and action. Each part includes italicized comments from the CARA Report which highlight and emphasize the discussion.
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