Dominicans Rejected what?

Hello everyone:

Here’s my problem. Recently I attended a vocation weekend with a community of the Order of Preachers. I’ve been discerning religious life, and during the weekend I was blown away by the life the friars lead. It felt so right to me. I expressed my excitement to the vocation director, and we agreed to do an application interview.

This interview involved talking about myself, my relation to Christ, His Church, my family, etc. It also involved a detailed discussion of my sexuality. The vocations director asked if I had viewed pornography, or if I had ever struggled with same-sex attraction.

I was honest with him. Without getting into too much detail, almost 4 years ago I had been quite promiscuous with other men. I had also viewed pornography. Right after I answered his questions about sexuality he told me I didn’t have a vocation to the province.

First I will argue for his case, because there are valid points. I have read the Vatican directives concerning homosexuals and the priesthood/religious life. They all suggest people who are active homosexuals and have “deep-seated” homosexual tendencies or support the “gay lifestyle” should not enter seminary or the novitiate.

This vocation director told me, “I’d love to give you a chance, but we live in a climate of paranoia concerning these types of things.” Perhaps with my spotted history of sexual sins, it sounded to him like I wouldn’t be able to live the evangelical virtue of chastity. And well these days any man with a history of sexual sins raises certain red flags in the eyes of vocation directors.

Another argument he gave me was that it was the policy of this particular province of Dominicans that they don’t accept candidates like me. They have accepted men who may have experimented once or twice with homo-genital activity, but for someone like me, who has committed such sins more than only once or twice, it would seem I am beyond hope vocation-wise.

Now I will try to express what I think of all this. It has been heart-breaking and extremely frustrating. I accept my past promiscuity. It was a time in my life when I wasn’t listening to the voice of God, where I put my selfish desires first. But though I sinned gravely against chastity years ago, it is not a part of my life anymore. I am a Catholic first, not a homosexual first. All I want is to do God’s will, show His love to the world and serve His Church. And thus I feel called to religious life.

I’ve been reconciled with the Church, I’ve repented and I’ve been trying to persevere in living a chaste life. But I feel as if I’ve been dismissed just because I haven’t always led a blameless life. Just look at the lives of saints like St. Augustine of Hippo. He exemplifies the old saying, “Every saint has a past…and every sinner has a future.” So if my sexuality is not part of my major identity anymore, and if I am striving to live chastely, why can’t I enter the novitiate?

Concerning the Vatican directives, they do bar men with deep-seated homosexual tendencies from entering seminaries (cf. Section 2 of “Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies
in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders
”. However, the same document contains the following in the next paragraphs:

One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies.

Different, however, would be the case in which one were dealing with homosexual tendencies that were only the expression of a transitory problem - for example, that of an adolescence not yet superseded. Nevertheless, such tendencies must be clearly overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate.

I would argue, based on this passage, that my past promiscuity was the result of not only lack of good moral judgment, but also a lack of sexual maturity. I was about 17 or 18 years of age when I committed those sins against nature, and so I think that since then I’ve obtained quite a bit of affective maturity, and that I have a better grasp on living chastely. And I’m confident I would be able to perfect myself in regards to chastity before ordination to the diaconate.

In the end, this vocation director told me to try looking at other orders or provinces of Dominicans who “may be more accepting of me.” Go somewhere else, homos need not apply, it seemed he was saying. He also said he would bring my case up to the council who votes on who gets accepted into the novitiate. I’m thinking of writing a letter to the council explaining my situation to them. I think it would help give a human face to the questionnaire answers, which can be clinical and don’t always give the whole perspective of an issue. What do you think about taking this course of action?

Another option would be to ask for some clemency from the council. Maybe the Dominicans could give me a year or two to prove to them I can live chastely, and that this would be no obstacle to my entering the novitiate. Deep down I feel this is the right place for me. Please try to understand my frustration.

I realize no one has a human right to be a priest, a nun or a friar. But I still feel a strong call to be a Dominican in this particular province when I pray about my vocation, and I am ready to accept my past history, my past sins. I have taken all these faults to confession, and God has forgiven me for my sins with His awesome mercy. I think the important question now is: *Can this vocation director forgive me? *

What’s the best course of action to take from here? I still feel God is calling me to serve as a religious, but I think my past is a stumbling block.

In Christ,

A Hopeful Aspirant

Look, a lot of people are rejected from religious orders for a variety of reasons. I’ve been rejected for being too old, medical reasons, and weight. If you have been rejected from an order, accept it and move on. Those are the rules and decisions of the orders and you have to accept it.

I understand your anger and disagreement. I also understand why you’re upset. But before I continue I ask you this…

Would you allow YOU to join if you were the director?

Don’t think about it, just answer. Whatever answer pops into your mind FIRST is your instinctive answer. THAT answer will tell you alot.

Personally, I would accept what the director said. If you need to go see a counselor for it, fine. Go ahead. I think if you accept his decision and move on,…God will eventually have something else lined up for you in the future. It may be a few years from now,…or maybe even a few decades from now. But trust the director’s answer. After all, he is only following his orders. But if you trust his judgement, and stay true to your faith,…God should have something for you later on down the road. If it helps, try to think of trusting the director…as being the same as trusting the Lord.

I had a similar problem a few years ago (though mine wasn’t of a religious sort, NOR did it include anything near as sinful as your past).

I was in ROTC during high school. Ours was a Navy unit. After I graduated I wanted to join the Coast Guard. They wouldn’t let me as I was 4F-MDQ (medical disqualify). I had flat-feet, had been on meds over a year, and was overweight. I was mad for the longest time. I had depression for a while. Then I saw the Knights of Columbus at Church and was inspired by what they do. And now I’m a 3rd Degree Knight. (I took the ceremonies about two weeks ago, and had my first Council Meeting on Wed.). I do believe the opportunity to join the Knights was God’s way of telling me that I was destined for something more than the military life. It may not be as impressive as the military, but sometimes being a hero means helping in smaller ways. If the govt won’t let me join, maybe the Church will. And now I’m a Knight. It wasn’t something I expected, but hey, that’s life.

Maybe this is Gods way of saying you’re meant for something else. Who knows?:shrug:

I hope that helps. If not I apologize.

What I just said, PLUS what turtle said.

That vocation director also knows the context of their community and province. Perhaps they have already accepted someone like you, and to have more than one in the community might present a near occasion of sin. Perhaps they took a risk on someone and it turned out to be a bad risk.

In the quotes you clipped, homosexual tendencies refer to ideation, not action. There’s a big difference between the two.

I am curious to know if the Dominican’s are the only order you have explored. How many other vocation seminars for other orders have you attended or researched? You were not rejected by God, you were rejected by a vocation director following a set of rules.

I would continue to pray. Attend a spiritual weekend retreat for those discerning vocations. Continue to explore other avenues.

If your heart is truly set on this one province, see if there is an appeal process. Email the vocation director and ask for a meeting. However, try and think about how you are going to feel if they do reconsider and accept you. Do you really want to join an order that doesn’t want you?

I think it may very well be best for you to follow the advice of the Dominican you spoke to; it is very likely that he knows things about the personal dynamics in his province that we can’t know. God is not closing all doors to you, but He may have closed that one.If you wish to appeal you can, but you mustn’t get your hopes up. For reasons you may only know in Eternity, it is likely He has another plan for you. If you truly feel called to be a Dominican then perhaps you should explore another Dominican province.

It is also important to remember that it often helps for religious especially to get to know someone a bit before they make a decision. Infornation presented in a vacuum as it were, can easily be misconstrued, and past behavior is difficult to evaluate without a context.

Fr. Andrew Apostoli has a chapter in his book called, “When God Asks for an Undivided Heart” about homosexuality. He addresses the question, “What if the Answer is No?” He is a very wise and holy friar and I would recommend you read his book. Also, Fr. Benedict Groeschel’s book, “The Courage to be Chaste,” might be helpful, but I don’t recall the question of entrance into vowed life being dealt with specifically as it is in Fr. Apostoli’s book. God bless you, wherever He leads you!

Welcome to Catholic Forums! Since that friar told you that he will be bringing your case to the provincial council, I think that it would be a very good idea to write to them (but I would not beg if I were you). Also, keep yourself open to other Dominican provinces and to other religious communities, as this man has suggested (he sounds like a nice man even if he did not tell you what you had wished to hear). All this being said, keep praying about your situation and life as a whole. Sometimes you do not get what you expect or had wanted, but God has a plan for everyone’s life.

Look at other orders and other Dominican provinces…as you wrote it’s been 4 years since you engaged in that lifestyle. Since it happened 4 years ago, in your next interview perhaps you will “cut out” that info. God Bless!

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