I just entered the Church this past March (I’m a 24-yo F). My family is all Methodist, and growing up in the South, I was never exposed much to Catholic, well, anything. Since joining the Church (and even a little bit before during Lenten Season), I have felt very pulled to academic & religious life in the Church. I immediately applied to graduate school for theology after Confirmation, and academically I feel like I have already put myself on the right path. However, religiously I am having a hard time discerning my call. I was wondering if I could ask for help from those who have had much more experience with the Faith?
I feel a very strong pull towards a consecrated life option within the Church, but I’ve found it hard to find good & accurate information on the various options. I’ve tried doing research online, including the Vocation Tree, but there just doesn’t seem to be a lot of information on the topic (or at least, not readily available information). I was hoping I might get ideas of vocational options if I gave a bit of background on how I feel I want to live my faith, and I hope that’s not too much to ask :).
Basically, I know this might seem odd considering I just joined the Church, but I am 99.9% sure that I want to make vows. That is the singlemost important vocational attribute I am looking for. I want to throw my complete self into the Faith, and dating really isn’t part of that for me anymore. The other thing that I absolutely want is to be somewhere where I can work with kids a lot in their character formation and in taking care of them, particularly foster kids. I was hoping to work with an orphanage, but I have heard that they apparently no longer exist. Are there still Sisters who work with foster kids?
Now, the major issues for me with living in a convent are twofold: first, I want to be exposed to the world. I want to make sure that I have the maximum potential to provide an apostolic mission to those in need.
Secondly, and while this may seem like a dumb reason for finding communal living to be an unavailable option, I can’t wake up early physically. My health rapidly declines when I consistently wake up before 10 am, and I am only at peak health waking up after 11 am. I know it sounds ridiculous, and I feel a bit…whiny discussing it, but I failed out of high school multiple times because of my health, and I know that I can’t work around it despite previous efforts to do so. It doesn’t matter when I go to bed; I can sleep 3 am to 11 am and feel great all day, but if I wake up at 7 am, I feel horrible, even if I go to bed at 8:30 pm the night before (which is what I often did for undergraduate science labs).
I worked around this issue in undergraduate, making sure I woke up no earlier than 10 am at least every other day and sleeping in abnormally long (e.g. 2 pm) on Saturday to ‘catch up,’ and my graduate school classes are evenings-exclusive, so I have been able to manage until now. However, I know that living in a convent involves waking up extremely early; I talked to one Sister about her convent, and she said that she wakes up at 5 am daily. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear if this was the norm. Certainly this is not the only time my odd sleep schedule has made (or will make) my life difficult (night work is very hard to find, for example), but it is certainly the most impactful & important time.
I have looked at secular institutes, because from my understanding it would allow me to keep my own schedule, but they don’t seem to have binding vows, which is very important to me, and I’ve found almost no online information regarding them. Sadly, I did not live a very chaste life at all before joining the Church, and as a result, I can’t achieve my preferred option of consecrated virginity. Any other information or suggestions for alternative vocations within consecrated life would be greatly appreciated.
Also, if I may add at the end, if God ultimately calls me to religious life within a convent, I will be obedient, even if it completely wrecks my physical health. I am just looking to see if there are options that could work for both vows and my health. Thank you all for reading a very long post and for all your responses. God Bless :).