How much is a dowry for a nun/sister to enter religious life?


Some orders of nuns/sisters require a payment before a person enters, I’ve heard some can be $500 but what about other orders? I just want to know incase I need to save up before entering.


That would be something to find out directly from each order that you are thinking of joining, just as you would ask each one directly about what habit they wear, what their daily schedule of prayer is, what work (if any) they do outside the convent and so on.


I don’t think they do that any more.


A “dowry” of about $500 is not too uncommon, but it is also intended as a “savings” for the new Postulant, in the event they should later decide to leave, as it is then returned to them. The Convent keeps only the interest. Also, they must keep the dowry for many years, often as long as 20 to 50 years, in case she decides to leave later, even after Solemn or Perpetual Vows. However, I do not know of any Convents who would not receive a new Postulant who seemed well-suited to the Order which would refuse someone who did not have the money. The Convent I was in had a dowry of $500, but we had half of the Novices who had no dowry at all, due to coming from very poor families and had entered at age 18 or 19. Years back, they had often entered at age 16, and being unemployed, and from poor families, had no dowry to offer. I don’t think any Convent or Order would refuse an entrant due to lack of funds, however. They ask for it mainly as a “safety net” for the entrant, in case they leave at a later date, perhaps during the Novitiate, or during First or Second Vows, prior to taking their Final Vows as a full member of the Community, but some require it to be held for them for quite a few years even after that. When I left prior to taking my Vows, the dowry was returned to me. They wrote a check, had me sign it, then cashed it for me and gave me the cash when I left.


The only thing I have heard is that you can’t enter until you pay off your debt, particularly student debt. It has become such a problem that there are organizations set up to help people entering the priesthood or religious life to pay off their debt.


There are still dowries today, and some orders require you/your family to pay a monthly fee through your Postulancy, in case you decide to leave before entering Novitiate. I read about it only for one specific order, but it might be something to check into. And if you have debt you still need to pay back, check into the organizations that will help you, as Warandpeace mentioned. I know that many Dioceses will help Seminarians pay off debt as long as they stay through Seminary and are ordained, and if they don’t follow through with ordination, they have to pay most or all of it back. I don’t know for nuns, though. If you’d like, PM me your diocese, and I’ll do some research for you and see what I can come up with, if you have any debt. :slight_smile:


I’m finding out from my order soon but I was just keen to see if anyone knew of other orders regarding dowries.
I’m not in any debt, I am from Australia and my studies were mostly government funded here (I did have to pay some) but I’m starting work soon so just thought maybe I need to save some money if I needed to pay a lot when I enter my order (I mean if it’s over a few thousand dollars).


What, really? Why? It takes many people 10 years or more to pay off their student loans. That seems like a tremendous impediment.


To avoid burdening the order. Vows of poverty make it difficult to pay debts.

A person who has discerned a call may be able to find donors to pay his/her debts so he/she can enter religious life.


The Convent I was in also required an entrant to be debt free. However, they had one young lady with a large student loan left from college. She had a teaching certificate, however, so they allowed her to live in the Postulant’s section of the Convent, work in the Catholic School where many of the Sisters served, and she put 90% of her paycheck onto the student loan and paid it off in about 3 years. Near the end of the 3 years, she actually still had at least another 2 or 3 years to go, and her home Parish in another State, had a fundraiser, and gave her the money to pay off the rest of the debt. She became a Novice that summer, took 1st and 2nd Vows, then Final Vows, and is now serving as the Superior in a new Convent for the Order in South America. Due to return to the US this year! She had to train another young Sister for 4 years to become Superior, since all the others are still short of Final Vows, but she’s leaving behind a Convent of about 25 in various levels in their training, where there had never been one before, and a Catholic School for the poor, taught by her new Sisters! Can be done, just difficult.


I found out some orders have a dowry of $5,000. Might put some money away just in case .


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