Why is there a jump in young women becoming nuns and how are these millennial nuns different?
And the aspiring sisters aren’t like the old ones. They’re more diverse: Ninety percent of American nuns in 2009 identified as white; last year, fewer than 60 percent of new entrants to convents did. They’re also younger: The average age for taking the final step into the religious life a decade ago was 40. Today, it’s 24. They’re disproportionately middle children, often high-flying and high-achieving. Typical discernment stories on blogs or in the Catholic press start with lines like “she played lacrosse and went to Rutgers” or she was “a Harvard graduate with a wonderful boyfriend.”
You’ll find these 20-somethings, like other 20-somethings, all over Instagram and YouTube. Some investigate which religious order to join on a website called VocationMatch.com, basically a dating app for nuns. You get the sense that these young women get a kick out of demonstrating their enduring link to “basic bitch” concerns like food Instagramming, college sports or Benedict Cumberbatch’s facial hair—and then pulling a fast one on the rest of us with flinty tweets like “You die unprepared without the sacraments.”