Converts and Religious Life



I have a question for converts to Catholicism who are considering monastic life (or for anyone who knows a good deal about the subject). Have you found that monasteries are less likely to accept as a postulant someone who was not raised in the faith or has only been a practicing Catholic for a few years? Or is this a non-issue if other matters are taken care of (e.g. the suitability of someone's personality for the type of order in question)?


I do not feel that I know enough about this issue to adequately answer your question, but, from my experience, many communities require converts to have been confirmed in the Church for at least a couple of years(the Basilian Fathers require 5 years). However, I would not imagine why there would any real discrimination against converts.


Most communities prefer that you have been Catholic for at least a short period; varying from group to group; but it would be rare for that period to be longer than five years.

Contact a vocations director; he will be able to help you discern the community in question; or indeed refer you to their nearest director who will be able to discuss the specifics with regards to the community in question.

Remember; many founders of religious orders/groups were converts. I am specifically thinking of St Augustine (Augustinians) and St Pachomius the Great (Founded Cenobite(community) (as aversed to Eremetic(hermit)) Monestaries).


There is absolutely no discrimination against converts at all.

Keep in mind that John Henry Newman was a convert, who became a Priest, then a Bishop and then a Cardinal.

Most communities want to see you be a faithful Catholic for at least a couple of years. But once accepted, being a convert in about as much of a "non-event" as you could possibly have.


Thanks to everyone for your concise answers!


In my experience most communities do not mind if someone is a convert so long as they are not in the first blush of conversion when they enter. However, all the same criterion apply as would for anyone else in the faith: maturity, stability, a sound basic catechetical education (novitiate is NOT the place for this), life experience, college (usually required), freedom from debts and dependents, etc.


I'm 32 and about to enter an order of religious sisters. In my vocation search I contacted and visited many orders and none had any hesitation about me being a convert. In fact, two different communities told me they were willing to stretch their usual age limit for me *because *I'm a convert!

However, as the other replies note, communities did want me to have been Catholic for a few years before entering. Most said two years, others three years.


I am a two-and-a-half-year-old Catholic. :slight_smile: 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.

God bless!


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