Called to religious life but feel guilty for leaving widowed parent


I’m called to religious life. Yes I have a spiritual director and have been through the part of discerment that happens before entering a monastery. But my mom is poor, a widow, is approaching her senior years, has weak faith and I dont have another sibling who is able to care for her later on. I feel soooo bad for possibly leaving my mother when there will be no one else to care for her in say ten years when she’s old and needs more help. I feel like if I am to try to honour my parents, the leaving my mother alone during the twilight of her life is wrong! She says “it’s okay, live your life. Follow your hesrt” but she’s my mama amd so of course would want me to follow my dreams. Help!


I think that this would be a topic to bring before your advisor. It is definitely a tough choice to make.

My feeling is that if you are truly called, God will let nothing stand in your way. Speak to family about your concerns. Perhaps several loved ones can share the obligation. Find out about social services available in her area like Meals on Wheels, free or low-cost transportation to medical appointments, etc. Find out what her Church has to offer. Check all of your options.

I will pray for you and your mom. This will work out!


Wouldn’t your mother be sad if you didn’t follow your dreams? If you’re really going to become a religious, you should trust that God’s got your back on this one. I think if God’s calling you to the religious life, and your mom is telling you to continue on the path, then it would be wise to listen to both of them.


Praying to the Holy Spirit to give you guidance & direction with your discernment.


Oh my dear, listen to your mother. She has more faith than you may realize if she can say to you,that you should live your life. This is a strong parent, one who understands that you have a life to live. And please trust that when the time comes for you mother to need help or care there will be someone there to help her.

I have to ask: could you be headed to a Carmelite Monastery in Abbotsford, BC? If you are I have a friend there who entered shortly after I returned to the States in 1991. It is a good community. Just wondering?


Im happy to hear that it seems you’ve sorted out whatever kept you from enter religious life previously. Has the monastery changed their policy regarding medical requirements to enter? (Im just curious about it as a earlier thread states you couldn’t enter a cloister).
If you do not want to answer my question just forget that I asked.
Anyways, you’re Canadien it seems and I really thought you guys had a better wealth fare than the US. Would it be hard to get your mother to a retirement home when the time comes?
How old is she anyway?
Further as someone has already mentioned if the monastery’s is located in British Columbia you should be able to go visit your mother at least once a year or so?
Don’t they allow it?

I hope things sort out for you.
You are in my prayers.

Yours in Jesus and Mary

  • MarianCatholic


I’m going to be the one dissenting voice here, I expect…

You are young, you do have your whole life ahead of you, please God. Spend at least a little of it caring for your Mammy in her latter years.

These years will not be wasted in terms of spiritual development; it is difficult to care full time for our loved ones; especially when they are poorly and frail. You will need to cultivate great patience, kindness and understanding - even when you are exhausted and your Mammy is perhaps cross or anxious. These hard-won graces would be of great benefit to you in religious life; especially if you choose a working or nursing order. You will also have honoured your mother, as God commanded.

That said, Jesus also called a young man and told him not to wait to see to his father’s funeral, so I suppose you must discern what God wishes you to do.

If neither option feels ‘absolutely right’, your spiritual advisor can help you to make a proper retreat before making your decision. You might also ask to speak with the nuns of your chosen order; all have left families to join the convent.

Neither choice is bad; you can do both and fulfill God’s command for you. Take your time, pray for guidance and seek the help of your advisor. I will pray for you also. :blush:

You’re a caring and conscientious young woman, whatever you do, I have no doubt you will do it with great love and dedication. Bless your sweet and worried heart.

Jenny x


I think for her sake and yours, you both need to be proactive and discuss this frankly. Your attractions, her future support. As another poster said, she likely has more faith than you think she does. We don’t know how long either of you have on this Earth.

The cloister is God and the soul. The building is irrelevant. Maintain interior silence and see if that helps.

Carmelite writings are for everyone.

I have a lay association where one lives a Vincentian spirituality. We have lay ‘congregational recluses,’ and one of them works as a nurse and cares for her aging parents.

Our links:



No different monastery.

Our health care system is quite good but is a financial burden on our economy. One way the government helps keep it affordable is by charging seniors more for some things. For exanole, in my province seniors pay $300 for each use of an ambulance whereas th rest of the population pays something like $40. But there are drug plans for seniors here, but everyone else has to get private insurance or pay out of pocket for them. Yes there are plenty of retirement homes but they are expensive. The government will subsidize the cost but even still some people cant really afford it. For someone without resources or helpful children it would be like living in a hospital room with four other people, barely any personal space, terrible food and an ugly home. It wouldnt be an easy life on top of all the normal difficulties that come with aging.

As for my own health. Thanks for remembering! It abruptly changed, which was a HUGE surprise and now I’m ok to enter after a waiting period. Mom is 60 and no, the sisters dont leave their monastery except for medical necessity.

I will do whatever God wants even if it is very difficult, but part of discernment is using your head to see if you have anything depriving you of being able to enter like certain disabilities or dependents. While my mom is not currently a dependent of mine so I meet the qualifications, I feel that because she is my parent (and especially considering our society’s complete lack of care or appreciation for the elderly) I must ensure she is not left alone amd completely abandoned when she is in need.


I see, have you ever thought that your sudden healing may be a miracle sent by our Lord to help you to follow your vocation?
It may seem like a coincidence, but I think there may be more to it than that.
However I can definitely understand how it’s a difficult decition to make, but remember that if you decide to enter religious life you will still be years away from making your eternal vowes.
It’s quite common that novices drop out at some point if they finds out that they may have misunderstood their vocation/ calling.

It seems so, so striced that they never grant permission to visit ones parrents at least once every year. I know that it’s the common practice and that the purpose of it is to make you 100 per cent commited to God, but I hoped they made exceptions if needed (case to case).

I am thinking of/ deserning a vocation to the religious life myself or to the priesthood, but the though of never seeing my family again makes me hesitate a lot.
I know that if I become a priest I’ll be able to visit my parents at least once a year, but Im afraid of the lonelyness that has to go along with that sort of life.

Anyways, sorry for hijacking your thread:P
At least Im happy to hear that your health has improved and I hope you’ll find the answers your looking for and remember that regardless of how you live your life God will Allways grant you the opportunity to serve him wherever you are.
Others needs will always be there for us to fulfil.

Know that you’re in my prayers dear sister:)
I’ll light a candle for you at mass today or tomorrow.

Be at peace and put your trust in The Lord

Yours in Jesus and Mary

  • MarianCatholic


I offered my rosary for you and others discerning a vocation.


Praying for you and your mom. God’s Will Be Done!


As an older person, I am going to weigh in on this.

You should definitely talk to your chosen community about this. There is a good chance that they will not accept you because of your obligation to your mother. It is very difficult not to enter now, as your mother is saying that you should follow your heart, etc. But after your enter and her health deteriorates, as it will, the guilt and sense of obligation that you will bear in religious life will really weigh on you. You say that you are young, and that your mother is old. There is a good chance that you could enter a community later in your life, given the way that things are going for most religious communities, especially in Canada. In the interim, you can work on your prayer life, perhaps become an oblate or lay member of the community or of its charism (third orders).

Irrespective of your health system, there is nothing like a concerned child to run interference for an elderly person. You will learn how to run the gantlet of the health care system; make sure your mother takes her meds and has transportation to her appointments; be able to sit with her as the health care provider discusses her health problems, the meds she is taking, their side effects, etc. If your mother is ever in assisted living or a nursing home, you will be able to visit her as often as possible, getting to know the providers around her, making sure that she is eating, has her hearing aid and batteries, etc. I have observed this personally. No one can take your place.

Later on in your life, when your mother is gone, and you are entering religious life, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you did everything that you could for your mother. Nothing can take the place of this feeling.


I feel as if I am in a similar situation, only I live in the states where health care is even worse. I do have siblings but I don’t think any would be willing, or able, to care for my mother if she needed it. I am still going to try to join a community and trust that God will show me what to do if the situation arises where she does need care. The way I see it, you can’t know what the future holds. I had a neighbor who was able to take care of himself until he had an accident at 94. If things get bad enough that your mother needs cared for I’m sure the Abess would grant special permission to take your leave to do so. IMHO you can’t live in the land of “what if” you can only go off of what is the situation right now. So if your mom is still in good enough health to care for herself I say go for religious life until she is unable to care for herself. I do like the other answer earlier in the thread though about about becoming an oblate at the community you’re interested in, it kind of allows you to do both.


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