Looking after family as a nun


I'm just wondering if there are any nuns or other religious who could answer this for me... what happens if you become a nun, give up all your money, and then later in life your parents fall ill and need someone to look after them? Do you just have to rely on other siblings? Would the religious order give you the free time to look after them? What about the money it would cost to care for them?

I'm discerning my own vocation and this question troubles me.

Thanks for any responses
Gob bless


Sorry for cross-posting, I tried to delete this entry but I can’t for some reason.


You might not be admitted to religious life if you are the only person who would be able to care for aging parents. If you are admitted, and you are unexpectedly needed to care for them, you might be released from your community (but not necessarily your vows).


I remember this issue coming up in one of the discernment groups I was in. The answer basically (from the Sister who is the vocation director) boiled down to it varies from community to community. If there are particular communities that you are looking at ask them about how they handle taking care of aging parents.
I hope this helps!


What you're referring to is called exclaustration. I'm assuming you're not a religious, but maybe considering it? If you do have aging parents who will need your direct assistance in the near future then you ought to divulge that to your superiors before admission. If you're wanting details for some project or just curious, the canons you're looking for are Can. 686 and 687

Can. 686 §1 With the consent of his or her council, the supreme Moderator can for a grave reason grant an indult of exclaustration to a perpetually professed member for a period not exceeding three years. In the case of a cleric, the indult requires the prior consent of the Ordinary of the place where the clerics must reside. To extend this indult, or to grant one for more than three years, is reserved to the Holy See or, in an institute of diocesan right, to the diocesan Bishop.

§2 Only the Apostolic See can grant an indult of exclaustration for cloistered nuns.

§3 At the request of the supreme Moderator acting with the consent of his or her council, exclaustration can be imposed by the Holy See on a member of an institute of pontifical right, or by a diocesan Bishop on a member of an institute of diocesan right. In either case a grave reason is required, and equity and charity are to be observed.

Can. 687 Members who are exclaustrated are considered as dispensed from those obligations which are incompatible with their new condition of life. They remain dependent on and under the care of their Superiors and, particularly in the case of a cleric, of the local Ordinary. They may wear the religious habit, unless the indult specifies otherwise, but they lack active and passive voice.

edit: sorry I didn't read all the way through your post. :o God bless you in your discernment!


Thank you Cruikshank! I appreciate your response. I am indeed considering a religious life. I'm 24 and just now converting to Catholicism after a life led as an agnostic.

God bless


One important thing to note is that several religious orders have apostolates in nursing homes or elderly homes. Such communities include (among others):

Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus
Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart
Sisters of Nazareth
Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate
Little Sisters of the Poor

I know for a fact that when it came to the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus they told a young woman who was concerned about possibly having to care for her aged parents that a possibility would be that she could have her parents admitted to one of the elderly homes if she was the only one to care for them. That way, she could still answer the call to religious life, and her parents would be cared for.

Another thing to note is that if God took care of your parents before you came along, He’ll take care of them when you leave if it is meant to be. :wink:


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