Being called to the religious life. When is my teen considered to be grown?

I am a single (never married) mother of a 14 year old daughter, and I feel I am being called to be a nun. At what point would my daughter be considered grown enough for me to enter into a convent? When she turns 18 and graduates from high school, or does she have to graduate from college? What if she desires advanced degrees? Would I have to wait for that? My finance are such that, no matter what, I have vary little for undergraduate and none for graduate. She’s going to have to make it on grants and loans, just like I did.

Hi Territoo,

Welcome to Catholic Answers! God bless your desire to become a nun. I hope it becomes a blessing and a joy to you and your daughter.

Have you talked to a vocational director about your wish to become a nun? I think that would be the best place to start. Each diocese has one and they can answer a lot of your questions about eligibility and specific religious orders and help you discern next steps.

I don’t know if there is a “correct” answer but my advice for you would probably depend on your circumstances. For example, does your daughter have any other family? Does she see or spend time with her father? Would she have a place to go on school vacations? If it’s just you, I think it seems prudent to wait until she graduates from college, at which point she could easily be considered an adult even if she plans on later attending graduate or medical school. On the other hand, if she does not rely much on you for emotional support and guidance (for example, if she lives with her father and you send financial support), then it seems reasonable to me that you might enter a religious order sooner, maybe as soon as she graduates high school.

What kind of convents are you considering? Are they nearby or farther away from where you live now? Are they cloistered? These are things you might consider discussing with a vocation director.

God bless.

Once your daughter is 18 she is an adult and responsible for her own life. But you need to prepare her for the idea that when she graduates you will be heading for a convent. She needs to be holding down a job, understand the costs of things and realize that she will be on her own for education.

In all likely-hood you could change your mind by then too. So why not simply take this time to discuss this possibility with her and continue to discern if this is what you are being called to do. You could make visits to possible communities. You also need to find out if the communities in question will even say “yes” to your wanting to enter them. They can say no for a number of reasons including age, health, and notions about your responsibilities as a parent.

You are able to apply once you no longer have children who are dependent on you.

That being said, why are you so eager to rush out of your child’s life? To be honest, that’s more of a impediment to religious life right now than simply having a child.

I agree. And I think talking to a vocation director is a good idea.

I’m troubled that you seem to be dismissing your current vocation. You can live a devout, holy life as a mother and a single person.

Thank you all for your responses. I’m not dismissing my duties or trying to rush anything. I love my daughter very much, but she is growing up so very fast. It seems just yesterday I sent her to preschool in her plaid jumper and black Mary Janes and now she’s in high school. I am just considering my plans for my future. I’m an older mother and most convents have age limits. I’ve already passed the limit of a majority of them, so my options are few. You are also right in that things might change in the future, but then again it doesn’t hurt to start making inquiries now.

She needs financial independence, which means a good steady job and paying her own bills and no debts. Is there the possibility of inherited disease later on in life?

Start right now with building the ‘cloister of the heart.’ Read a life of St. Catherine of Siena. Devise a routine which starts with giving God your heart in the morning, and visualizing Jesus at the foot of the bed when you’re falling asleep. Remember the Angelus (6-12-6) and the Divine Mercy (3pm).

Humility and detachment from worldly things are paramount. St. Vincent de Paul said he treated all men as Jesus, and all women as Our Lady, and he got along just fine.

St. Francis de Sales says it’s our job as Christians to turn to God a hundred times a day.

Would your daughter be interested in religious life?

What form of religious life would you be interested in?

Where are you located? Look locally first. If you know any religious communities, it may be that they would be the first to accept you. That’s the trend now for older vocations.

Blessings,
Cloisters

Legally, she is an adult at 18 and you are no longer required to support her. However, communities are going to assess your relationship and attitudes towards her in their evaluation of you. If they perceive that she is indeed dependent on you, desires higher education to which you can contribute something, and perceive in you a desire to get rid of her—they will not be interested in you. At any rate, you would have to choose orders which have a relatively high upper age limit, from 35 at a minimum, which is low these days, to 45 and higher. I am sure that many of these communities have seen this sort of thing before.

Thanks so much for this post! As a single mom in my mid-40s (and who tried my vocation as a contemplative Benedictine in the 1980s) I love the reminder to be a contemplative in the world! Brilliant!

Gertie

Hi Teritoo,

a couple major things to consider:

  1. you cannot have any legally dependent children

  2. must enter before the Order’s cut off age (age-limit for postulants)

  3. must be debt free

The best thing is start discerning God’s will and also explore the different charism (if you haven’t done se) of the religious orders that appeal to you. Once you’ve done that - initiate and stay in contact with that community.

May the Lord show you the path He has laid down for you. God bless.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.