Converts and Religious Life


#1

Hello,

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)?


#2

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.


#3

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).


#4

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.


#5

Thanks to everyone for your concise answers!


#6

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.


#7

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.


#8

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!
Dolores
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#9

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