The story of the consecrated life in Canada since the 1960s should be about much more than numerical decline. Although the falling numbers are significant among Catholic religious in communities that pre-date Vatican II, many communities continue to show stability and even growth. This book provides nuance to that story by adding detailed portraits of movements, communities and institutions.
In four parts, this book presents essays from the leading scholars on religious life in Canada that seek to address the state of religious communities dedicated to religious virtuosity normally characterized by formal promises of chastity, poverty, and obedience. The essays examine a broad range of topics related to the general state of consecrated (or “religious” or “monastic”) life in contemporary Canadian Christian and Buddhist traditions.
In the first section, the contributors trace the demographics and definitions of religious life in Canada. The second section examines Canadian developments in Catholic religious life during the Vatican II and the post-Vatican II eras. A third section explores trends in contemporary Canadian religious life, while the fourth section describes the consecrated life in other Canadian religious traditions.
It is an important contribution to the scholarly literature about religious communities in Canada, and more broadly, to the academic discussion of secularization in postwar Canada . .. Recent scholarship, both Canadian and international, has emphasized that secularization is not a neat, linear process, with predetermined, inevitable conclusions. The studies contained in Understanding the Consecrated Life support this more nuanced, critical understanding of secularization.- Bruce Douville, Church History and Religious Culture 97 (2017)