Some religious congregations in France are headed for "certain death," but other forms of consecrated life are springing up.
Father Gerard Lachivert, secretary-general of the Conference of Religious Major Superiors of France, reported his observations at a 1-4 December 2000 meeting of major superiors of French men's and women's religious orders and congregations. The superiors met in Lourdes to address the challenge posed by the crisis in vocations and its consequences.
"In general," Father Lachivert observed, "we can speak of the certain death of religious families that rose in the 19th century for educational, charitable and health purposes." However, traditional orders, such as the Franciscans and Dominicans, still had a great future, since they have seen a resurgence of vocations.
But the real news, Father Lachivert added, is the birth of "new communities" and movements that have come into existence over the past 30 years. "They are giving proof of a vigour that challenges all religious congregations."
In France, communities such as Emmanuel, the Beatitudes, New Way (""Chemin Neuf"), Bread of Life ("Pain de Vie") and others have arisen, many resulting from the Charismatic Renewal. The new groups have become the principal seedbeds of vocations to the priesthood in France.