Hello, I am a longtime browser of these forums but new member. I have a question about missing out on one’s calling. I have long been interested in monasticism (ten plus years). I only converted to Catholicism last year. I corresponded with a few communities and visited one for a week. I have been told my student debt is far too high and I would need to wait a couple of years after entering the church as well. The problem is that I am still in school persuing an advanced degree (M.A. following into doctoral program) and falling farther into debt (insanely, off the scale far). If I were working I would simply bide my time and try to pay things off. on the other hand I have never had any career goals outside of vague ones within the world of academia. I have a bachelor’s degree in a bizarrely narrow and impractical liberal arts subject and no work experience. I have also lead a very transient lifestyle and do not really know anyone anywhere and have zero references. I am rapidly aproaching the age limit for many communities and I am starting to wonder if I simply missed my chance or monastic calling. I know nobody can give a hard and fast answer, but I wonder if any orders either monastic or mendicant would take somebody even with debt if they had a degree which could be useful? I am studying theology at a Catholic university. Right now my other option is to drop out of school, get a menial job and work untill I was older than the entry requirements to pay off the debt. or should I just see these obstacles as God’s will and way of telling me that I am not called after all? what say you?
Normally, one cannot enter a religious community if one is in debt, as that would involve “sticking” someone else with the debt, not a Christian thing to do.
Not all religious communities require one to be young; but clearing the debts would be paramount.
This may be God’s way of directing your vocation.
I would work at the best job I could find and pay off those loans, regardless of where you want to end up.
My dearest friend went to grad school for a Masters in Pastoral Theology and Spiritual Direction, and graduated with enormous debt from the student loans. She lost her house. She’s flat broke, and applying to Catholic parishes, retreat centers, anything to use her Theology degree.
Not only are those jobs few and far between, but they don’t pay enough to live and pay off her debt. She’s working part time at a crafts store and living with her folks. She’s not a young person, either. This is not what she thought would happen. She had all these “plans” for her dream job.
It is awful to have debt hanging over you, but you’ve got to clear that, and then see where God is leading you. Don’t discount the monastic life just yet.
But get free of that debt so that you can at least have choices. God bless you.
First off welcome to the Church (and the forums)
You are correct that no one can give a hard and fast answer to your many questions and of course each persons vocational journey is different (whether to religious life, married life or to the single life)
As many have said it is true that for relgious life in any form you as a convert there is a waiting time. However there are many practical things you can do now.
(It goes without saying of course to pray)
That being said (hopefully some of the following suggestions will be helpful to you)
You mention not having many friends but also that you attend a Catholic University. You might consider taking advantage of some of the Catholic groups or events on campus. This would allow you to develop some friendships and also might help you to become more involved (as far as your studies allow) in Catholic activities.
While you are not eligible at the moment to join or apply to any groups, (due to debt and your being a recent convert) there is no reason that you can not at this time initiate contact with some. This would allow you to find out their requirements such as age etc.
Some groups might not wish you to pursue a Doctorate for instance. the advantage to contacting some now is that you would be able to make some connections and see what that particular group emphasizes. (For instance …some may say you ought to have had a part time job, or some might wish you to have only a 4 year degree, just as examples.,.
One advantage to getting to know more about the church is that you have the opportunity to learn more about our customs, and get to know more about the various religious orders, or other ways to serve within the church.
Sorry this was more long-winded than I intended,
Bottom line (As one college convert -1975- to another) get to know other Catholic students on campus- which helps balance your academic life, pray a lot, perhaps share with a catholic priest on campus or nearby and for sure speak to a priest or vocations director to help you flesh our a plan… (trust me having a person to meet with and share with helps immensely)
Sr. Debbie OSC
P.S… I am a late vocation who had to pay off a student loan.
Debt will hold you back from religious life more than age. At our local monastery there is a Benedictine who worked, raised his two children and then answered the call to monastic life at age 50 something. You need a spiritual director to help you discern your vocation; they can help you find a community that will work with your financial situation and age.