Back In The Habit: More Women Becoming Nuns

Religious orders in Britain have seen an increase in the number of women becoming nuns.

It seemed nuns in the UK had fallen out of habit with fears more convents were due to close.

But the number of new sisters has trebled in the last three years, bringing hopes of a revival.

In 2009 only six women had joined a religious order but in 2011 the figure increased to 17.

Out of that number more than half (nine) were under 40. The majority (13) were previously professionals with a university education.

Sister Cathy Jones, who has been a nun for a year and a half, said "It was something that I felt drawn to. It offers a chance for someone to be totally themselves.

"Although paradoxically we make a vow of obedience it offers a person the freedom to be themselves.

"A freedom to follow their hearts desires and where God and spirituality can be at the heart of that life. In our over busy world it offers a different way of doing things."

The number of nuns is still below what it was in the early 1980s when more than a hundred women a year took vows as sisters.

With increased calls about the vocation it seems for many the church is heading in the right direction.

Father Dominic Howarth, vocations director for the Diocese of Brentwood , said recruiting has changed.

"I think the old model would see religious brothers, sisters or priests going into schools to catch them for religious life," he said.

"Now it's accompanying, it's discerning, it's walking with a young person perhaps all the way from the late teens and early twenties through maybe four, five, six or seven years as they journey different ways in their life.

"It is only then that they can become more certain about who it is and what it is God is calling them to be."