Convert considering discerning a vocation


#1

I am a convert who was confirmed in November 2008, and I have recently been feeling as I learn more and try to grow in my faith that I might be being called to the religious life. What I would like to know is, do I have to wait until 3 years after being confirmed (so November 2011) before I can even ask to be considered for entry into a religious community?
Is it Canon law or does it depend on the individual and the discretion of the Prioress, Abess or Bishop?
I have such a lot to learn still but feel so strongly that I want to devote my whole life to serving God, and I need as much help as possible for discerning where I am supposed to be and how to get there!


#2

I don't think the number of years is in Canon law, not sure about that though. I think the idea is that the community wants to be sure that it is a true vocation and not just a passing initial fervor. I don't think that should necessarily stop you from looking at, speaking with or visiting communities. They will tell you if and how long they would want you to wait before applying.


#3

[quote="rowenacg, post:1, topic:194409"]
I am a convert who was confirmed in November 2008, and I have recently been feeling as I learn more and try to grow in my faith that I might be being called to the religious life. What I would like to know is, do I have to wait until 3 years after being confirmed (so November 2011) before I can even ask to be considered for entry into a religious community?
Is it Canon law or does it depend on the individual and the discretion of the Prioress, Abess or Bishop?

[/quote]

The conditions under which candidates can be admitted to formation in a religious institute are relatively straightforward in terms of universal church law as expressed in the 1983 Code of Canon Law itself. See:

vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P24.HTM

However, you'll note that these canons make reference to 'proper law', which unlike universal law does not apply to the entire Latin church, but only to particular parts of the church. The constitutions of a religious institute are an example of proper laws, which cannot typically contain provisions that are contrary to universal law, but may add to it or elaborate upon it. Note canon 643 §2:

Proper law can establish other impediments even for validity of admission or can attach conditions

and canon 645 §3:

Proper law can require other proof about the requisite suitability of candidates and freedom from impediments.

This means that any given institute might make recent confirmation a restriction to entry. Having said that, some institutes certainly waive this provision, and many would not consider it a bar to approaching the institute as an enquirer. So there is no harm in approaching a community regarding this matter, and there may be no such restrictions.

[quote="rowenacg, post:1, topic:194409"]
I have such a lot to learn still but feel so strongly that I want to devote my whole life to serving God, and I need as much help as possible for discerning where I am supposed to be and how to get there!

[/quote]

Given that entry to a community is typically the result of a long process of discernment and ongoing contact, starting now rather than later is always a good idea. ;)

If you haven't already done so, try to find a spiritual director to help you in this process, which can be very confusing at times.

Prayers and best wishes to you on your journey.


#4

Thank you both for the advice - I e-mailed the diocesan vocations director and he even offered to come meet me :S Exciting!


#5

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