CINCINNATI — Sixty years ago, seeing a nun dressed in a habit teaching a classroom of children was the norm in Catholic grade schools and high schools in Cincinnati and across the country. Today, most Catholic schools are staffed primarily by laypeople.
This change has happened gradually as a smaller number of men and women choose to become priests, nuns and brothers compared to a generation ago. In 1965, there were about 180,000 religious sisters in the United States. In 2014, that number had fallen by more than 70 percent to approximately 50,000. The total number of U.S. priests had fallen by 35 percent to 38,000 in 2014 from 59,000 in 1965, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.