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Religious order giving up its monastery

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The shrinking number of women called to Roman Catholic religious vocations has caught up with the Carmelite Sisters of Indianapolis. They're giving up their monastery and moving in with another order 60 miles away.

The Carmelites, who've maintained a presence on Indianapolis' northwest side for 75 years, are moving this summer to the southeastern Indiana town of Oldenburg to live alongside the Sisters of St. Francis.

The Carmelites' numbers have fallen off to just nine sisters from 12 four years ago, and their average age has grown to the mid-70s. Meanwhile, efforts in recent years to recruit new members have produced few takers.

"We feel we will have quite a few more years to live our life the way it is supposed to be lived. Then we will die out. There is no question about that," said Sister Jean Alice McGoff, prioress of the monastery and a resident for 59 years.

It's a fate other religious orders for women also face, said Patricia Ann Wittberg, a sociologist at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Social forces have worked against religious communities, Wittberg said.