Age of Entrance to Religious Order


#1

Hello,

Please forgive me if this is not the correct forum to post this question.

I am trying to determine if there is an age guideline that religious orders must follow for new aspirants. In other words, do they have to follow a certain state law? Diocesan law?

Specifically, this is for someone who would like to enter a men's religious community at the age of 17 in Alabama. Does the community have the right to accept someone at that age? The question arises because they used to accept young men at that age and then switched the age to 18 because of the scandals within the Church.

Do they have to follow the age of majority for that state? I just don't know and would like to know what the correct answer is. To my knowledge, Canon Law does not speak to a specific age.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

God bless!


#2

Canon Law, I think (but don't quote me) states an age of 14 or 15 for the universal Church. That is obviously inappropriate for North America. The Church tends not to admit people to seminaries and religious orders until 18 as the warping of young people who were formed for celibacy before they had reached sexual maturity was a huge problem in the scandals of the 1990s.

With religious orders, which are not under diocesan authority, it would be down to the superior of the order. I know some of the more 'T'raditional orders, such as the Franciscans of the Immaculate, accept novices at 17, but most will wait until 18.

If you cannot join the order right now, make they year(s) of waiting count for God - volunteer, study, travel with a mission group, explore your vocation.


#3

[quote="rdiienno, post:1, topic:270760"]
Hello,

Please forgive me if this is not the correct forum to post this question.

I am trying to determine if there is an age guideline that religious orders must follow for new aspirants. In other words, do they have to follow a certain state law? Diocesan law?

Specifically, this is for someone who would like to enter a men's religious community at the age of 17 in Alabama. Does the community have the right to accept someone at that age? The question arises because they used to accept young men at that age and then switched the age to 18 because of the scandals within the Church.

Do they have to follow the age of majority for that state? I just don't know and would like to know what the correct answer is. To my knowledge, Canon Law does not speak to a specific age.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

God bless!

[/quote]

There's no golden rule, I don't think. I do know that Canon Law says that one must be twenty-five to be ordained a Priest, if I'm not mistaken, but other than that, I don't know. Father David Mary of the Franciscan Brothers Minor has a great article on it, though: franciscanbrothersminor.com/FBM/Discernment_Part_X_-_Age_Discrimination.html


#4

[quote="rdiienno, post:1, topic:270760"]
...
I am trying to determine if there is an age guideline that religious orders must follow for new aspirants. In other words, do they have to follow a certain state law? Diocesan law? ....

[/quote]

Hello rdiienno,

There are two sources of law that must be referenced. First, the Code of Canon Law does give a minimum age: "Can. 643 §1. The following are admitted to the novitiate invalidly:

  1. one who has not yet completed seventeen years of age ..."

So, 17 is the lowest possible age. However, the Code also states: "Can. 643 §2. Proper law can establish other impediments even for validity of admission or can attach conditions."

So, each religious institute can impose a higher age limit. You'd have to check the proper law of whatever institute you are investigating. Even if the limit is 17 or 18 or 21, that doesn't mean any and every applicant would be admitted.

Another point to keep in mind is that most communities have a period of postulancy and/or aspirancy before novitiate. So, in theory, a person could "join" a community before the minimum age for novitiate.

Dan


#5

Thanks to all of your for your replies. It is very helpful and very much appreciated.

God bless!


#6

I really varies as everyone else said. Some allow even younger men for various reasons.

  1. 17 is for your canonical year of novitiate but one can have a longer novitiate and just have the last year as canonical.

  2. Some religious communities and dioceses run High School Seminaries for boys who are considering the priesthood. These don't involve commitment to the community but give a young man a time to discern in a more condusive environment - usually they are boarding schools. They are not so common in Canada and the US but they exist.


#7

[quote="MPSchneiderLC, post:6, topic:270760"]
I really varies as everyone else said. Some allow even younger men for various reasons.

  1. 17 is for your canonical year of novitiate but one can have a longer novitiate and just have the last year as canonical.

  2. Some religious communities and dioceses run High School Seminaries for boys who are considering the priesthood. These don't involve commitment to the community but give a young man a time to discern in a more condusive environment - usually they are boarding schools. They are not so common in Canada and the US but they exist.

[/quote]

One of these Seminary High Schools in America is Saint Lawrence, which is in Wisconsin, if I'm not mistaken. It's been here for a very, very long time. It's a very good one, too. Too bad it costs money to go there. :p


#8

As far as I know there are the following in the US:

Sacred Heart Apostolic School, Legionaries of Christ, Indiana - This was my community for two years but I was travelling 20+ days a month
Immaculate Conception Apostolic School, Legionaries of Christ, New Hampshire
Bl. José Luis Sánchez del Río, a new community from Latin America who’s name I forget
One group of Franciscans have one
I knew there was a diocesan one up in Wisconsin or Minnesota, if you say it is in Saint Lawrence, I trust you
Part of Our Lady Guadalupe Seminary, FSSP, Nebraska
I think there is one or two other but I don’t know enough to say any thing.


#9

Yeah. It’s a really great one. Problem is, it’s about ten thousand dollars a year to go there, and I can’t afford that. The last thing I want to do is put my father in more debt, despite this being a great opportunity for me. Besides, being that far away from home for so long would probably kill me.


#10

[quote="ATeutonicKnight, post:9, topic:270760"]
Yeah. It's a really great one. Problem is, it's about ten thousand dollars a year to go there, and I can't afford that. The last thing I want to do is put my father in more debt, despite this being a great opportunity for me. Besides, being that far away from home for so long would probably kill me.

[/quote]

At least we (the Legion of Christ) offer scholarships (part or full based on need) to the majority of our students. We have many who come from similar circumstances where 10-12K tuition would put the family in debt and we don't want to do that. The page on Sacred Heart says: "Enrollment is available to everyone whose parents agree with and support the school’s spirituality and educational philosophy... [and] Most boys come from large, devout families who can’t afford to pay all or even part of the annual tuition of $12,000." You can read a summary of this high school seminary at mylegionaries.org/articulo.phtml?se=377&ca=756&te=475&id=29846

As for beign away from home, that is part of going to such a school but it is often less burdensome than one may imagine.


#11

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