I am a two-and-a-half-year-old Catholic. I received a call to become a nun when I was still in the Anglican Church back in 2006. From the beginning I was drawn to cloistered Orders. I converted to the Catholic Faith in March 2008, and in the year before when I was taking classes, I visited the local Carmelite convent in July 2007. (At this time I was into Carmelite spirituality, due to my love for St. Therese and St. John of the Cross’s writings, but I loved the Poor Clares as well.)
The Carmelite Prioress told me I would have to be a Catholic for a year before I could enter, but then in November 2008 when I made my first stay there, she told me it was two years. At the time I was devastated as I was eager to enter (I was then in my “first blush of conversion” as Sr. Laurel put it), but endured it. Later the following year (2009) after I left my Catholic honeymoon, I made a second stay there – two months working as a receptionist and staying alone in the guesthouse, but only two weeks in the cloister. I left in January this year. After all this, I found out Carmel was not my call. It was really difficult to move on, and I had a time when I rebelled against my call.
Then in July my desire to be a nun returned. I am presently looking at the Capuchin Poor Clares and maybe the Dominican contemplative nuns. I had stayed briefly with the poor Clares in January last year, and I really loved their life.
The problem I encountered more than being a convert (it wouldn’t be a problem now to enter, because I am now over two years a Catholic) is the issue of having work experience. This is why the Carmelite nuns allowed me to work as a receptionist so I could have a way to enter if I made it in Carmel. Prior to that, I had no job due to suffering depression for three years after leaving High School. I am staying at home with my parents, and with my desire to be a nun I hadn’t looked for any other serious work except volunteering for Church ministry. I worked in a soup kitchen and have been a sacristan in my parish for the last year, a job I am highly passionate about. At the moment I am also studying a dressmaking course and iron for my brother and sister-in-law to earn a little money. I am a traditional type woman who, if married, would work from home and be a housewife. But I was told that with living in the 21st century the requirements for entry have changed. I found this frustrating, because I am not desirous to go out to make a career for myself, but am happy working at home in a simple domestic life. Fortunately some convents do accept candidates with just a High School Matric (Grade 12) even if we don’t have much work experience.
Another problem just as hard, is when one has a history of anxiety and depression and there is a bit of stigma or suspicion about that. It has been eight years since my post-school breakdown and three-and-a-half years since I was healed and stopped medication. I am doing quite well, but with a natural melancholic temperament I found that some places were doubtful at first about me until they got to know me better. This discouraged and hurt me quite a lot, but God called me, so He will make a way. I have no doubt about my call at all, and have some wonderful supporters in my parents and sister-in-law, an old priest of mine and my godmother.