Discerning a Late Vocation


Discerning a Late Vocation

Can anyone give me advice/tips about the possibility of a late vocation to the religious life? I intend of course to discuss same with a local priest very soon. I should add I am 60 years old since the 9th February last, but most people would take me to be a whole lot younger. This I hope will increase my chances of being accepted into an enclosed order, which is where I really want to be.

I would also appreciate any prayers offered for this purpose.

2 Cor 13:13
Eddy Barry


Depending on the order you are looking to enter, they may have upper age limits with possibly some exceptions. Like, on the website for the Carthusian order it says something like they will not accept people over the age of 45 because their ideas of the world are already formed.

I suggest you speak with a priest and/or contact the vocation director at the monastary you would like to enter.


Hello there,

Thanks for your reply. But surely people’s ideas about the world would vary regardless of age, and depending on that particular person, the life one has lived etc.

I don’t know yet the monastery I would like to join, except, I would like it to be an enclosed order.


In the past your age would have barred you from joining many (perhaps any, I’m not sure) religious orders. This requirement is partially due to spiritual/psychological considerations, partially due to the practical matter of ending up with too many elderly members and too few younger ones to take care of them.

However, in more recent years many orders have increased their maximum (and often minimum as well) age requirements as well as becoming more flexible about the requirements themselves. I seem to recall hearing an interview with a Cistercian (O.C.S.O.) monk a few months or years ago who applied to several monasteries late in life, knowing that he was above the age limit of all of them, and he in fact was accepted to one of them and is now, or was at the time of the interview, their vocations director.

Ultimately, if you do not meet the qualifications required by the community, that is proof that you do not have a vocation to them and you should rejoice that you have been saved by providence from pursuing a false vocation. However, it seems there’s a greater realization these days that this only applies to the qualifications as the community itself chooses to apply them (assuming any exceptions they choose to make do not violate any higher authority, obviously). Thus a community that has a maximum age limit of, say, 55 is probably less likely today to automatically dismiss you as not having a vocation to them, recognizing that they themselves may choose to make an exception and accept you, in which case it is possible you do have that vocation.


Not many will take people at sixty, but have you considered belonging to a third order?


May God bless you on your journey, wherever it leads you. I would give Mount Melleray Abbey in waterford a look if I was you, I don’t konw their position on older postulants but its a good place by all accounts


A friend of mine has just entered a monastic community and she is 59. Age is not a barrier. It can make things harder, yes, but it does not mean you could not find somewhere. Some orders do have upper age limits but it is always worth enquiring anyway because they will sometimes make exceptions. Many do not have any age limits at all. So it is perfectly possible that you could find somewhere: if God is calling you then there is a place for you, you just have to find it. As long as you are fairly healthy then your age should not be an obstacle for you.

I recommend looking into the different monastic spiritualities and seeing what draws you. Also see if there are any monastic communities near you (check your diocesan website or this directory of religious communities) that you could visit.


Establish the cloister of the heart first, based on the spiritualities which draw you, and God will lead the way.

Have you any idea which spiritualities attract you? Or which basic rule (Augustinian, etc) you find anchors your soul?



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