Are Catholic monks still around?

Answered by Randy McIntyre

Catholic monks are still around, but their numbers have significantly declined over the years. I can personally attest to this as I have witnessed the dwindling population of monks in my local area. It is a rather sad and concerning trend that has been ongoing for several decades.

In the mid-1950s, there were about 55 monks residing in the monastery near my hometown. Their presence was prominent, and their influence was felt throughout the community. However, as time passed, the number of monks began to decline steadily. Today, there are only 13 monks left, a mere fraction of what it used to be.

What is even more striking is the significant increase in the average age of these monks. Back in the 1950s, the average age was around 30, as younger individuals were eager to devote their lives to the monastic lifestyle. However, fast forward to the present day, and the average age has risen by nearly 50 years to a staggering 77.

This sharp increase in age can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, the lack of new recruits plays a significant role. Young people today are less inclined to pursue a life of celibacy and solitude, opting instead for more worldly pursuits. The monastic life requires a deep commitment and sacrifice that many find difficult to embrace in the modern era.

Additionally, the changing societal and cultural landscape has also contributed to the decline in numbers. With advancements in technology and the rise of social media, young people are exposed to a wider range of opportunities and distractions. The appeal of a secluded life spent in prayer and contemplation may not be as enticing as it once was.

Furthermore, the aging population of monks also poses challenges for the sustainability of the monastic community. As the monks grow older, they face various health issues and physical limitations that make it harder for them to carry out their daily activities. This, in turn, puts a strain on the remaining few monks who must take on more responsibilities to keep the monastery functioning.

It is worth noting that the decline in the number of monks is not unique to my local area but is a trend observed worldwide. Monasteries across the globe are facing similar challenges, with many struggling to maintain their traditions and way of life.

While Catholic monks are indeed still around, their numbers have significantly decreased over the years. The decline in new recruits and the aging of the existing monks have led to a diminishing population. It is a concerning trend that raises questions about the future of monasticism in the modern world.