SHARECOMMENTMORE

PEPPER PIKE, Ohio-- There are many issues facing the Catholic Church. Among them is the declining number of young women who are becoming nuns.

In 1960, there were about 180,000 nuns in the United States. Today, there arefewer than60,000.

Yet, there is at least one group of nuns in Cleveland who believe there is still reason to keep the faith.

"Religious life has existed for a very long time," says Sister Diana Stano, an Ursuline Sister. "The numbers may be smaller, but it's not going to leave."

Sister Diana, who is president of Ursuline College, says women religious are hopeful about continuing their traditions of service.

"There will always be needs, there will always be women who respond to those needs," she says.

In fact, current trendsare seen as a return to the roots of women religious.

"We know that religious life has always been a small and unique band of women," says Sister Susan Durkin, president of the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland. "We got so large at a certain point in time in our history and I think we're getting back to a smaller, more focused group."

The fact remains, however, orders are aging. The median age of an Ursuline Sister of Cleveland is 74, andwith that comes the concern over longterm healthcare.

"We have the same issues that families have today in terms of employment, your retirement, healthcare and taking care of others that you love, except we're doing it with a much larger number than maybe a family would," says Sister Durkin.

Nonetheless, the mission continues.

Says Sister Diana: "There will always be a few good women who are out spreading the good news."