After a year packed with news articles on religious orders, a Dallas Morning News feature on a convent in Texas stands out.
This piece is smart, insightful and multi-sourced. Unfortunately, the best stuff is buried five or more paragraphs deep. Here's how it starts:
There were once no vacancies at the Jesus the Good Shepherd Convent in Grand Prairie. Now there are plenty of open rooms.
In decades past, the convent, a sprawling complex on a large plot of land just off the Bush Turnpike, housed around 40 members from the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
Fifteen women from the order live there now, with four of them ministering to the outside community.
Where have we read that before?
Pretty much everywhere. And that's a pity, because the 800-word Dallas story has much to offer.
It quotes six sources -- including a 51-year veteran, a sister who just took her vows in October, and the order's national director of vocations. It interviews two women who are exploring religious life over a weekend visit. And it includes details like:
The order’s dwindling numbers reflect a broader trend in the sisterhood across the U.S. In the past 50 years, researchers at Georgetown University reported, there has been a 75 percent decrease in the number of Catholic nuns in the U.S., from 180,000 in 1965 to fewer than 50,000 last year.
Perhaps more significant, there are now more sisters over the age of 90 than there are under the age of 60.
But these sisters aren’t just watching the falling numbers, as the Morning News reports.