Learn more about Catholic nuns in Africa

African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC) facilitates access to education for Catholic sisters (also referred to as nuns) in Africa. While many people in the United States "remember" sisters and nuns as school teachers, nurses and more, their population is on the decline. However, in Africa, Asia and other parts of the world, the amount of women joining religious life is growing at incredible rates.

Frequently Asked Questions about Nuns and Sisters

Here are some frequently asked questions about Catholic nuns and why we are so invested in the service work of Catholic sisters.

Are nuns highly educated?

Every congregation understands the importance of education in living out its charism. Catholic sisters in the USA are known to be highly educated. However, in Africa, about 71% of Catholic nuns do not have higher education credentials. And, because of the great need for their service, they are often underqualified for the positions they hold (like teachers, nurses, bursars, etc). This is why ASEC's work is so important. Our impact

What's the difference between a sister and a nun?

The words sister and nun are used interchangeably in common speech, even among sisters themselves. Technically speaking, sister is a generic term that applies to any woman who takes vows in a religious order (including nuns). The distinction actually comes between nuns and apostolic women religious. Nuns live, minister and pray within the enclosure of a monastery and take public, solemn, perpetual vows. Sisters live an active vocation of both prayer and service, helping people in the society. Sisters take simple vows that can be can be temporary or perpetual. Learn more

Do nuns make money?

Catholic sisters dedicate their lives to service and take a vow of poverty. Many nuns in Africa serve in low or no paying jobs in very poor, rural areas. Even if a sister does earn a salary, the money goes directly to her congregation (which is financially separate from the Catholic church). Sisters are given a small stipend by their congregation to pay for personal items.

Are sisters supported by the Catholic church?

Sisters are regulated by Church law/Canon law, but orders of sisters are NOT financially supported by the Catholic church as an institution. In fact, most Catholic organizations are financially separate from the Vatican. The money that you put in the collection basket on Sunday does not go to sisters, except to pay a salary for a sister who works for your parish.

Get to Know Catholic Nuns & Sisters

Sisters join in prayer during a 2018 HESA workshop in Uganda.

Deciding to Become a Nun: The Process

more than a year ago.: [USA] reflections If you have ever wondered about the process of becoming a nun, you are not alone. It turns out it takes a lot of commitment, dedication and time to prepare before taking one's final vows.

Stock photo by Jesse Orrico, Unsplash.com

Late Sister, ASEC Founder to Donate Body to Science

more than a year ago.: [USA] general When Sr. Margaret Gannon's decision to donate her body to science was announced at her memorial, some wondered, "Can she do that?" The official answer from the Catholic Church is, "Yes, yes she can."

ASEC Sisters are pictured walking during a HESA Reflective Learning workshop in Uganda, 2022.

Coming and Going: Trusting God’s Path for Sisters

more than a year ago.: [Uganda] general Working in a collaborative network of sisters from various congregations, countries and continents demonstrates the value of each individual's footprint on the organization.

Students learn how to make soap during Entrepreneurial Month at Our Lady's Nursery in Nigeria.

Educating Students to Lead Exceptional Lives in Nigeria

more than a year ago.: [Nigeria] general Our Lady's Nursery School in Nigeria recently hosted Entrepreneurial Month, an opportunity for students to be exposed to workshops and education that can sustain them in the future.

Mgolole Orphanage Center, Tanzania is run by the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters. It's known locally as

Celebrating the Ripple Effects of Service in Honor of MLK, Jr.

more than a year ago.: [none] general What is the impact of one soul? Well, as demonstrated by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., one soul can impact the entire world. In 2022, we are still learning about the impact of his message.

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