How do I tell my mother I am discerning?


So far, I have kept my discernment very private and haven't really spoken to others about it. However, I have now reached the stage where I feel certain that God is calling me to religious life and in the new year I will start to visit the communities I am interested in.

I am now facing the problem of telling my family. My parents are divorced and my father is estranged from us, it's just me, my sister and my mother. Both are non-Catholics. I fear that they will not understand and be upset by my choice, my mother especially. I am drawn to cloistered life, and I can see how this way of life particularly might be confusing to them.

Though at first I did not want to tell them, I feel that now I am certain enough that I can and I also feel that it is better for them to know now and be able to get used to the idea than for me to suddenly spring it on them later on.

I guess I'm just looking for advice on how to approach the subject and try to open them to accepting my vocation. Any resources I could give/show them would also be helpful.

Thank you!


first of all well done and you are being brave?

Secondly, have you spoken to your parish priest about your desire? He will need to know as he can help you find a convent etc and prepare you for the types of questions you be asked at interviews etc. I know on the Church Of England website there is reams of information for anyone thinking about priesthood/holy orders.

Have you visited a convent for a week/end? May be the parish priest can help organise that too. But if he hasn't already then he will be your first advisor. By the sounds of it you haven't tried to visit a convent for a weekend etc or your mother would already know. That be a good place to start perhaps.

Tell your mother you are thinking about asking the parish priest for advice on Holy Orders. which one etc? Pray to God asking God for guidence. I know one friend who went to a convent for a year and before she went her closest two friends were very upset for some reason. They thought they were loosing her for good I guess is the only solution to what I could come up with about why they should be upset about it all. But I think most people were proud of her that she attempted to follow her conviction and that is what you got to do. Your mother may be upset but equally she may be very happy for you.


That’s a tough one…
Could the answer be as simple as praying, and asking the Holy Spirit to give you the words and take care of the results for you?
I’m not in any way trivializing your dilemma, at all. But on a much smaller scale, when I need to tell someone something I’m not looking forward to, or deal with an emotionally charged situation, I often ask the Holy Spirit in before speaking. He’s amazing. He gives me the words to say and handles every detail, even down to unraveling the knots if any form over what was said. He takes responsiblity for the outcome, and He does it perfectly. If you feel you need more preparation, you could fast, and pray a 9 day novena to the Holy Spirit - very powerful. God be with you.


In the same way that your Mom moved away from her parents and married your Dad , it’s your time.

Your decision, your life.

Congratulations on your discernment and I’ll keep you in my prayers.


I suspect you can do them a lot more while praying for them in the cloister than you can at home.

That being said, it's time to move on. As Barb said, it's your life and your time. You are being called to follow God. He will give you the words to say, and them the grace to understand (wouldn't hurt to pray for 'em ahead of time!). :)

God bless!


“Mother: I am discerning.”


If God is calling you, then it is God you must obey. You can break the ice by having a good talk with your priest first.

God bless you in your discernment!


Thank you all for your responses.

I haven’t visited any communities yet but I have two in particular I plan on visiting in the new year. I’d do it now but I just don’t have the money to travel to them right now. I haven’t spoken to my parish priest either but I think I will try and speak to once of the priests after daily Mass tomorrow.

I know I have to follow my calling and I will but I do want to try and minimise the hurt it might cause to my family. I am going to Adoration tomorrow, I will keep this in my prayers.

I just really don’t want to upset my mother. My family is small and I worry about how my mother will cope with me leaving. It’s not like I’ll be leaving any time soon, I’m still in college and then I’ll have to pay back my loans, but then I also want her to be ready for if and when the day comes.


Since this is not something that is likely to happen in the immediate future, perhaps you should break it to her gently and step by step. After you return from the visits talk about it and explain what religious life is about. My guess is that your mother knows nothing or little about it and is perhaps used to stereotypes of nuns. If you carry on going to retreats and decide on a particular order, she will get used to this aspect of your life as a Catholic, just like she got used to you converting. I’m not saying it will be easy and she will probably be very emotional when you do break the news. So this step by step approach is probably a good way to start the process of telling her.


It’s tricky, because I’m away it’s harder to approach that way. I think it would be the best way but she keeps asking about my plans for after university, if I’ve applied for masters programmes yet - but obviously doing a masters at this stage would be foolish.

I’m trying to find some resources on religious life and vocations so I can give them to her so she can learn a little bit more about it. Hopefully then she’ll understand my call better.


You could try being up front with her and say that you are looking into joining the Holy Orders after University. At the moment that is precisely true. You are looking. I know you think you may well actually join, but after looking, even you, may well change your mind and prefer not to join so soon. You got to explore and find out which Holy Order you are being called to. That is where your Parish Priest comes in.

So next time your mum asks you your plans after university, just very simply say you are thinking about Holy Orders and spending time looking. That way would give her time to prepare. She is trying to prepare by the sounds of it because she is asking your plans. She wants to know your plans so she can prepare herself for your departure. She already knows, by the sounds of it, you are going to move on in some way. She may already be aware you are thinking about Holy Orders.

I think, which is something we all do, is that we make it hard for ourselves. Am certain from what you have said, is that she is trying to prepare for your departure in some way by asking for your plans. So you have the choice of waiting till the next time she asks. Or seeing as you have gone to an Adoration Day. You could use that to break you into the conversation. She is asking you, your plans so you kind of owe it to her to be honest with your plans. As I say, she is preparing herself in her way for the enevitable departure that you are going to go somewhere at some point.

We make things hard for ourselves


If this is God’s will, then you must do it. I’d talk to your priest if I were you.

I know how it is! My mom’s SDA and I told her I wanted to be a Dominican (I just told it to her straight) and she just said, "Well, it’s about time! You wanted to be a nun since you were 4 and once you hit 3rd grade you, for some reason, wanted to be an author. It took you 5 years to realize this is what wanted for you, sheesh. It was right in front of your face for a long time."
Not the most kind speech, but at least she accepts it, eh? :shrug:


[quote="White_Peony, post:12, topic:263132"]
If this is God's will, then you must do it. I'd talk to your priest if I were you.

I know how it is! My mom's SDA and I told her I wanted to be a Dominican (I just told it to her straight) and she just said, "Well, it's about time! You wanted to be a nun since you were 4 and once you hit 3rd grade you, for some reason, wanted to be an author. It took you 5 years to realize this is what wanted for you, sheesh. It was right in front of your face for a long time."
Not the most kind speech, but at least she accepts it, eh? :shrug:


I'm so sure it's God's will, I know I have to take this path but it's not easy and I do have worries.

I'm glad your mom was so accepting of your vocation.
When I was in RCIA my mom came with me for a class once. We used to write down our questions and put them in a box and the priest would answer them at the end of class. That week, I decided to put in a question about how one became a nun (this was like four years ago). My mom asked what I had put so I told her and she just went 'you're not thinking of becoming a nun are you?' in this kind of half joking but horrified kind of way. Maybe I'm just overreacting but that's just stuck with me and I fear she'd react really badly.


I see the difficulty. Well, since you have to pay off the student loan my guess is that you will get a job after you finish uni. That will give you time to discuss your plans with her. maybe you could watch a film together, “No greater love” and “Into great silence”. It is important to show her that nuns and monks are just normal people although they live a different life than others.

I don’t know if this is of any consolation but many parents who are practicing Catholics would feel the same way if their child decided on this vocation. Some people see religious life as a loss and find it difficult. Just prepare yourself that your mum will be emotional and probably not happy at first. But that will pass. Keep praying for her, that she is open to it.


The thing is I was always planning on doing a masters degree. If I were still planning on doing so, I would be applying around now. I’ve already suggested to my mom that I take a year out and apply next year so I guess she knows I’m doubting my previous plans. I don’t think I can tell her I’m putting that on hold without explaining why. My plan is to go back home and work - I’d have to go home because to pay off my loan any time soon I can’t afford my own place - so I kind of need my mom to be on my side.

I will keep praying that my mother will keep an open mind.


Greetings PerfectTiming,

How wonderful. I shall be praying for you as you discern your vocation.

I am at another position than you find yourself. I find myself being counseled to get my degree’s in Sacred Theology both Master’s and Doctorate’s before entering into religious life. It is hard because I see the years slipping by, but I know that to obey counsel one cannot go wrong. Please pray for me as well that I will persevere with school. I am thankful that I will not have any loans at the end of it as everything is paid for.

I will pray that you will find a way to share with your family about your vocation.

God Bless.
Anathama Sit


Thank you very much, I will also keep you in my prayers.

You are very blessed to not have any loans. I know that I am also very lucky since my mother paid for half my tuition and living expenses and still pays my rent, so I could be a lot worse off than I am.


I have no experience with this, but yesterday I made a new friend who is about to start at a convent and the love she has for Christ was like nothing I have ever experienced before!

I will pray for you!!


Greetings PerfectTiming,

My heart longs for the day that I can enter. I am glad that your mother has helped you out in that way.

God Bless.
Anathama Sit


I know the feeling, I too long for that day. Every day I think about how much I want to enter religious life. Even in little things I do in my daily life I find myself desperately desiring to enter.

Thank you very much for your prayers. I will also keep you in mine.

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